i3 | December 17, 2019

Home Internet Efficiency Improves Under Voluntary Agreement

Elliot Grimm

With more connected devices in American homes every year, the consumer technology industry has made it a priority to deliver more energy efficient broadband devices. In August, CTA and NCTA - National Cable & Telecommunications Association announced the latest findings from their annual report of its voluntary agreement to improve the energy efficiency of small network equipment (SNE).

Adopted in 2015, the agreement has already improved the average idle mode energy usage of new SNE (relative to average broadband speed) by 66% — saving consumers both energy and money — and covering nearly 90% of U.S. broadband households — roughly 87 million homes.

“The continuing success of our industry’s SNE agreement validates the emerging worldwide consensus that voluntary agreements are the best way to deliver more energy efficiency products in the market,” says Doug Johnson, vice president of technology policy, CTA.

The latest annual report by independent auditor D+R International demonstrates the dramatic progress already achieved under the agreement. According to the report, nearly all (99.6%) of SNE devices purchased or sold at retail by participants in 2018 met the agreement’s energy efficiency levels, with 100% of signatories meeting their commitment that 90% of their devices would meet these levels. Notably, these efficiency improvements have been achieved even as consumers demand increasingly robust equipment to support higher-speed services, better Wi-Fi strength and support for more Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

Signatories of the voluntary agreement are also committed to meet more rigorous “Tier 2” energy efficiency levels by 2020. According to auditor D+R, 97.5% of devices already met these levels in 2018 — two years ahead of schedule.

Agreement signatories include the major broadband internet service providers (representing 89% of the market) Altice, AT&T, CenturyLink, Charter, Comcast, Cox, Frontier and Verizon, as well as leading device manufacturers Actiontec, ARRIS/CommScope, NETGEAR, Technicolor and Ubee Interactive.

Award Winning Agreement

Earlier this year, the SNE agreement was announced as an Environmental Leader’s Project of the Year. Judges cited its rapid and successful results as well as its establishment of an effective alternative to traditional regulation that’s better suited for fast-moving Industries.

According to that agreement’s recent report, consumers saved roughly $1.6 billion in energy costs as a result of the voluntary agreement. According to independent auditor D+R International, consumers have avoided a total of 28.6 million metric tons of CO2 emissions and reduced national set-top box annual energy consumption by 39% in the six years since the STB VA’s launch. The energy saved during this period is enough to power all homes in the state of Pennsylvania for one year.

Beyond network equipment and set-top boxes, a new CTA report found that while the number of tech devices in homes has Increased, their share of total energy use is steadily shrinking. Today, U.S. households’ consumer tech devices consume 25% less energy than they did in 2010. The industry’s success can be attributed to investments in more lightweight materials and energy-efficient technologies, as well as the convergence of multi-function devices and continuous innovation.

“Consumers expect more from their home internet devices to support higher-speed services, increased Wi-Fi capacity within their homes, and support for more Internet of Things devices,” said Neal Goldberg, NCTA General Counsel.

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