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Sustainability boosts telecoms profits, GSMA report shows

During the ongoing Shanghai MWC, GSMA Intelligence released new insights in a report, "Green is good for business: making the financial case in telecoms." The second instalment in a three-part series on sustainability, the report, produced in partnership with Huawei, shows that by investing in greener technologies, telecom operators can boost their financial bottom line.

“While the net-zero and environmental imperative are fundamental, green investments should be seen as good for costs and revenues,” says Tim Hatt, head of consulting at GSMA Intelligence.

One of the main reasons companies may be reluctant to invest in sustainability is a concern that doing so will be costly. The latest GSMA Intelligence study demonstrates that this is far from the case in the telecom industry. For instance, operators could reduce opex by 4% for a 20% reduction in energy costs through power efficiencies. This is a powerful incentive to invest in power-saving technologies like 5G, AI and lithium-ion batteries.

In addition, customers worldwide are willing to support with their wallet telcos that invest in sustainability. With climate change a top concern, 30-60% of telco subscribers surveyed in 16 countries would pay more for mobile airtime tariffs that are certified carbon-neutral.

“On costs, energy is still 20-40% of telco opex, and reducing this by 10-20% can feed through to an EBITDA uplift of 2-4%. On the revenue side, we see opportunities from green-linked tariffs, trade-ins and the sale of renewables,” adds Hatt.

The GSMA Intelligence study also shows that telcos are well-positioned to benefit financially from the world's decarbonization mission. This is because digital technologies can enable as much as 40% of the carbon dioxide savings needed by 2030 from the industries accounting for most of the world’s carbon emissions.

“Green is good for business: making the financial case in telecoms” is the second of a three-part series from GSMA Intelligence in partnership with Huawei on the technological and business implications of sustainability in the telecom industry. 

The research aims to give an evidence-based view of why going green makes business sense and how this can be done effectively. The other two reports are about the overall rationale and outlook; and the reputational and external relations case.

Underpinning the reports are two international surveys: a consumer survey of 16 countries with a sample size of 500 per country and an enterprise survey of six vertical industries involving the participation of 100 global respondents per sector. In-depth interviews were also conducted in late 2022 and early 2023.

MWC Shanghai 2023 runs from June 28 to June 30 in Shanghai, China. Huawei is showcasing its latest products and solutions at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre (SNIEC). “Together with global operators, we are deep diving into topics such as speeding up 5G prosperity, striding towards the 5.5G era, and intelligent digital transformation. Notably, 5.5G is creating new business value in areas like the internet of people (IoP), internet of things (IoT), and internet of vehicles (IoV), supporting varied industries as they move towards an intelligent world,” says the company. 

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