Sprint: WiMax Is Greenest Network Yet

NEW YORK -- Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) will see a tenfold surge in data on its WiMax network between now and 2013. If it does nothing to address this growth from an environmental perspective, it will at least double the amount of energy usage its network gives off.

That's still small enough to meet energy guidelines, but Sprint doesn't plan to sit idle. Sprint, whose wireless network consumes 86 percent of the company's total energy usage, is already making moves to handle this expected power surge.

Sprint will reduce its energy requirements by 10 percent by 2017, despite the exponential growth it's expecting, said Iyad Tarazi, VP of network development and engineering, a keynoter here at today's Light Reading Green Broadband event. This goal will be easier to achieve, since Sprint started from scratch with its WiMax network, building it as an overlay on 3G, he added.

"We have thousands of cell sites, and we are approaching quickly where 4G is more than half the size of 3G," said Tarazi. "Every site is environmentally friendly in a way we didn't see in the 3G network."

Tarazi said Sprint could have opted to build 4G the same way it had with 2G and 3G, but chose to think greener this time around. Improving its energy usage in this way will affect its bottom line in terms of backhaul costs and devices on the network and will make operations easier to handle, he said. Being eco-friendly was was just a nice side effect. (See Does Green Telecom Make Cents?.)

Sprint is also pushing its green 4G network for smart-grid deployments that utilities are beginning to pursue in the US. (See Sprint Pushes WiMax on the Smart Grid and Grid Net Uses Sprint for Smart Grid.)

Sprint's WiMax network currently covers 70 million POPs, and further expansion is planned, with New York and Los Angeles on deck. Tarazi said Sprint is going to be aggressive and it won't stop expanding even as devices consume data (and energy) "like nothing you've seen before." (See Disney Gets Sprint 4G, Sprint: An Epic Win?, and Sprint on 4G: Heavy Data Users Wanted.)

In fact, Sprint devices like the High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498) Evo or Samsung Corp. Epic 4G see 10 times as much data consumption as a BlackBerry, he said.

"Consumption is coming, and anyone who doubts it here just needs to upgrade to an Evo and will be happy," Tarazi told attendees.

Tarazi also identified four out of what he said are 100 green objectives the company could aim to meet by 2017:
  • To reuse or recycle nine out of 10 of the devices it sells;
  • To reduce greenhouse gas by 15 percent;
  • To reduce paper usage by 30 percent through e-billing;
  • To increase renewable energy use by 10 percent through hydrogen fuel cell deployments for back-up power.

"For a lot of the new energy products –- the bits and bytes is the easy part," Tarazi said. "It's the process and logistics and business support and the training for thinking of hydrogen as a fuel -– that's the hard part…None of this will happen unless you change the thinking of the company so sustainability is part of your objectives."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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