Advancing sustainability through network automation

Network Innovation, Sustainability

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Operators who neglect sustainability throughout their network automation journeys may miss out on synergistic energy saving opportunities. We explore five automation applications that reduce emissions and outline how operators can maximise sustainability outcomes in their network automation journeys.

Automation and sustainability have much synergy

Automation has long played a significant role in telecoms, and it has gained renewed prominence in recent years, driven by the deployment of cloud-native networking and the emerging potential to offer new types of services. It sits at the heart of operators’ digital transformation strategies due to its potential to support a range of strategic goals, including cost reduction, operational efficiency, accelerated time to market and improved network reliability.

Simultaneously, sustainability is moving up the agenda. The drive to reduce emissions is fuelled in part by the need to meet operators’ ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals and adapt to an evolving regulatory landscape, but also by the fluctuating energy costs in recent years.

Despite sharing the common goal of greater efficiency, automation and sustainability are typically treated as separate endeavours by most operators. Many operators recognise the potential for automation to have positive environmental impacts, albeit as a secondary by-product. Yet only a select few leading operators have incorporated sustainability formally into their automation programmes as key metrics to track. See the graphic below.

Operators’ approaches to automation and sustainability vary significantly

Source: STL Partners

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As operators progress towards their greenhouse gas reduction goals, maintaining improvements will become increasingly difficult after achieving initial successes capturing the low-hanging fruit. The focus will shift to more complex initiatives which will require operators to fundamentally reassess network operating models and incorporate sustainability measures for more incremental gains. Therefore, embedding sustainability across the organisation will be imperative and this starts with core programmes and competencies such as automation.

This report explores the sustainable impact of automating specific network and service operations. To maximise sustainable outcomes in network transformation, it is essential for operators to consider sustainability at every stage of the network and service lifecycle, encompassing planning, deployment, and operations. This means embedding sustainability as a key consideration throughout the network automation roadmap.

In this report, we discuss the different automation initiatives delivering sustainability benefits for operators and outline key recommendations on how operators can approach their automation journey to maximise sustainability outcomes.

Table of contents

  • Executive Summary
    • Operators must create stronger linkages between sustainability and automation
  • Introduction
  • Mapping the sustainable impact of automation
    • We have explored five key automation applications that will deliver sustainability benefits
    • Using automation to reduce energy intensity of the network will drive significant Scope 2 savings for operators
    • Dynamic inventory management drives more sustainable decision making and network optimisation
    • Convergence enables more efficient resource sharing and minimises Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions
    • Optimising service operations minimises field interventions and reduces Scope 1 emissions
  • Recommendations for operators: Creating stronger linkages between sustainability and automation
  • A message from our sponsor
    • About Blue Planet

Related research

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Miriam Sabapathy


Miriam Sabapathy


Miriam is a consultant at STL Partners working across a range of projects focusing on private networks, the impact of 5G across industry verticals and B2B growth strategies. Alongside this, she works within our private networks practice. Miriam holds a BA in Classics & Philosophy from Durham University.