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New Whitepaper “Fibre: the most energy-efficient solution for Europe’s bandwidth needs”

New Whitepaper “Fibre: the most energy-efficient solution for Europe’s bandwidth needs”

A recent Europacable Whitepaper on Energy Efficiency of Fibre-based networks clearly demonstrates the vast energy saving potential of fibre.

The Whitepaper builds on three studies commissioned by Europacable, the voice of Europe’s leading wire and cable manufacturers. It studies the efficiency gains of fibre compared to other technologies for multiple network types. It is intended to help consider and assess the energy requirements of different broadband access technologies and act as an important basis for discussion with stakeholders.


As demand for bandwidth and the number of connected devices continue to skyrocket, fibre will be key to saving energy and empowering Europe’s digital connectivity. The two studies referenced in the document clearly demonstrate the vast energy saving potential of fibre, across all practical and realistic rollout scenarios for fibre and wireless networks.

The key conclusion of the report: fibre significantly saves energy while significantly boosting bandwidth. Fibre consumes more than three less energy than other solutions across a wide range of real-life scenarios, at every stage of its lifecycle. Fibre not only consumes a relatively small amount of resources but can also enable energy efficiency in other areas.

Furthermore, laying down fibre to access points benefits the upgradability and flexibility of networks, ensuring these will meet future needs. As shown by the studies, fibre is the most energy-efficient means of transmission and offers a vast amount of spectrum that can be lit on demand by activating active equipment at the end points, from fixed networks to mobile front/back/midhaul.

“Indeed, the results of all different fixed access networks and fixed wireless access networks studies have clearly demonstrated the superior power efficiency of the fibre-based networks”, says Jan Schindler, Global Market Intelligence Manager at Prysmian Group, who was closely involved in the study.

“What’s more, the outcome surprisingly showed that FTTH networks have, by far, the lowest amount of active network elements in all different surveyed locations. This is heavily reflected in the comparison between power consumption outcomes of the access networks.”


Jan Schindler

Global Market Intelligence Manager at Prysmian Group

Jan Schindler shares some insights into the main factors influencing the speed of fibre deployment:

  • Availability of components. The tight fibre supply chain hasn’t been the real bottleneck so far, but it could be, depending on the priority setting of overseas manufacturers.
  • In Europe, the situation is tight, and the market has been aggressively influenced by low price oversea competition in the last few years. As a consequence, the average prices in Europe tend to be lower than in many other regions. This is leading manufacturers to divert a part of their capacity to more profitable markets (e.g. North America).
  • The capacity to install fibre in the field is actually the real bottleneck today as the availability of manpower is becoming very tight in several countries.
  • The capacity of investors to maintain their plans, from the financial perspective, as the global economy suffers. European Telcos have a far lower investment capacity than their American peers, so the networks building plans are probably more vulnerable in case of recession.
  • Of course, slowing down the roll-out would have significant effects on the recovery of Europe in the mid-long term. A robust digital infrastructure is a must - and this starts with a future-proof optical network.


"Member States are playing and will continue to play a significant role in the roll-out of fixed and mobile networks,” explain Louis Obry, Public Affairs Officer, and Volker Wendt, Secretary-General of Europacable.
At the moment, conditions and practices for deployment still vary greatly between Member States. Several administrative hurdles remain, especially with regard to permit granting which can delay fibre rollout and jeopardise European targets on Gigabit connection. Moreover, Member States should ensure that the network is as reliable and efficient as possible by introducing specifications on energy performance in public tenders.”



At European level, common tools, practices and rules can enable fast deployment of the physical infrastructure. The upcoming revision of the Broadband Cost Reduction Directive could facilitate access to existing physical infrastructure, improve coordination of civil works and reduce delays in permit granting. Moreover, correlation with other upcoming legislations of the Circular Economy Action Plan of the Green Deal, could allow the deployment of a low carbon network."



Key findings Meschede Study

Meschede is a region in North Rhine-Westphalia, representing a typical rural to urban settlement structure in Germany. The goal of this two-part study was to ensure comparable energy consumption figures for a variety of access technologies, with a target of providing a minimum of 50 Mbit/s on every connection within this region.

Conclusion: FTTH GPON is the most Energy-Efficient Access Network option, with a per capita consumption of 56 kWh/year - 88 kWh/year.

Key findings Milan Study

To help determine the impact of different architectures, a simulation of a real world scenario was created, taking macrocells deployed in Milan as an example. This study ranks the different types of access according to their energy-saving properties as follows:



3. POINT TO POINT RADIO FRONT/BACKHAUL using mmWave and microwave frequencies.

Conclusion: Fibre offers better energy consumption performance in all scenarios compared to equivalent technologies on backhaul and fronthaul access networks. Optical fibre provides the best performances in terms of energy consumption in all the considered 4G and 5G scenarios.

Europacable Whitepaper

“Energy efficiency of fibre versus microwave, mmWave, copper, satellite and laser for the transport of the fronthaul and backhaul in 4G and 5G mobile networks.”

Politecnico di Milano, January 2022

“Energy efficiency of fibre versus microwave, mmWave, copper, satellite and laser for the transport of the fronthaul and backhaul in 4G and 5G mobile networks.”

Politecnico di Milano, January 2022

Europacable is committed to helping achieve the digital and green transitions

Europacable is the voice of Europe's leading wire and cable producers. High-quality, sustainable power and telecommunication cables, produced by our members in Europe, empower electrification and digitalization of our societies. Founded in 1991, Europacable represents the largest cable makers in the world providing global technology leadership, as well as highly specialized small- and medium sized businesses from across Europe.

With our future being ever more electrified and digitalised, cable technology will be the core backbone of Europe´s energy and telecommunication infrastructures. Sustainable, low-carbon manufacturing and high-performance cables are essential to achieve Europe's climate neutrality objectives by 2050. Europacable is committed to the principles of free enterprise and fair trade. Our members employ over 80.000 people of which more than 50% in Europe, generating a worldwide turnover over € 70 billion in 2021.