2010 in Review: Wireless and Our Energy Future
CTIA and our members recognize that we all have a responsibility to the environment for the health of our planet and for future generations. This is why our members are developing “greener” products and services, implementing energy-saving technologies in our network operations and business practices and educating consumers about cell phone recycling. But we believe the biggest environmental benefit comes from the efficiencies wireless offers businesses around the world, revolutionizing their operations and reducing their environmental impact in the form of paper waste reductions, fuel savings and more. One of the most interesting ways wireless is helping the environment is by enabling the smart grid. We blogged back in September about smart grids and how wireless is supporting the unique communications smart grids rely on to achieve huge energy savings. President Obama estimated that a nationwide smart grid will reduce power outages that cost American consumers $150 billion a year, cut consumer bills with “smart meters” and put us on the path to generating 20 percent or more of our energy from renewable sources by 2020. During our fall show in October, we heard from Department of Energy Under Secretary Dr. Kristina Johnson about some of these benefits. While modernizing our nation’s electrical grid will not come without cost, there are some smart ways to implement the smart grid. As we already highlighted in our comments to the Department of Energy on how the wireless industry can support smart grids, commercial wireless networks must be used rather than dedicated spectrum is critical to reducing costs and creating efficiencies. One estimate put the cost of building and managing a network at $110 million over 10 years, versus $54 million for relying on a commercial network over the same time period. Wireless carriers continue to invest more than $20 billion per year to upgrade and support their networks and achieve universal coverage, a feat seemingly impossible for utility-owned private networks. As the Utilities Telecom Council concluded in their study on energy and water utilities’ communication needs, when utility companies rely on wireless technology for communications across the grid, and by having wireless carriers play an important role in smart grid deployment since they have the infrastructure and technical requirements needed, then we’ll have successful consumer adoption.