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PwC Study

Study on FTTH and Sustainable Development

In February 2008, Ecobilan/PricewaterhouseCoopers completed for the FTTH Council Europe the first study of the net environmental impact of deploying FTTH networks in Europe, Developing a generic approach for FTTH solutions using LCA methodology.


The study compared the environmental impact of a typical FTTH network to its associated socio-economic benefits, and will provide the foundation for further research on the subject by the Council. Maximising the opportunity for new services while minimising the materials and maintenance required, FTTH contributes to reduced road travel, less transport infrastructure, and the introduction of innovative social and government services.


In the study, total impact of network implementation covers the full lifecycle assessment (LCA) of a typical fibre infrastructure from production of passive equipment, transport, implementation of all active equipment and power consumption to the end of the network’s life.


The LCA methodology, specified by ISO 14040/44, comprises:

·Defining a goal and scope for the project: Which question is addressed? What will be the reference for calculations?

·Defining the studied system along the life cycle of the product: Breaking it into units for which environment data will be gathered, modelling and processing the data by using software, and generating an output (Life Cycle Inventory).

·Making an impact assessment.

·Analysing the inventory and impact assessment results: contribution analyses.

·Drawing interpretations of the results, through sensitivity analyses and scenario analyses.


Ecobilan modelled the FTTH network impacts and associated services savings by using its proprietary LCA software tool TEAM. The diagram shows how the study took a whole-life approach, covering the production steps from raw materials to the end of the FTTH network’s life.


Lifecycle Assessment methodology applied to FTTH deployment and use



This LCA was applied to three key scenarios: urban dense dwelling (multidwelling units — MDUs — such as apartment blocks), urban-wide dwellings (such as individual houses), and rural dwellings. The scenarios also included a number of applications enabled by ultrafast broadband access to residences and institutions: teleworking, telemedicine (covering teledialysis, telemedical meetings and medical imaging transfers), and home-based medical assistance.


Overall parameters for the scenarios were area type (urban, suburban, rural); dwelling type (single home, MDU); installation type (trenching, laying in sewers etc.); deployment type (P2P, PON etc.).


Key objectives of the study included:

·Evaluation of the environmental impacts of the deployment of FTTH technology for the three scenarios, together with the environmental benefits associated with, for example, the use of teleworking or home-based medical assistance.

·Assessment of the resulting quality-of-life enhancements (the societal aspects) from the point of view of sustainable development.


The scenarios were constructed using IDATE’s projections for the numbers of FTTH users (20 million in Europe in 2015), and with the assumptions that 10% of the working population would be able to telework three days per week, and that 20% of the senior population (75 years old and over) would be able to benefit from FTTH-mediated home assistance.


The study found that, for the first 15 years of the network implementation, the greenhouse-gas emission savings per user were 330kg, equivalent to a car travelling 2,000 kilometres. Further, the sustainability of FTTH solutions will increase significantly as user experience grows and other aspects not assessed in this study, such as supply-chain management and energy demand, are included.


Over the full network lifecycle, network power consumption represents only 6% of the total environmental impact, while the production and deployment of the equipment total over 80%. Importantly, continuing technical innovation will make many aspects of FTTH deployment either cheaper, quicker or less disruptive, thereby reducing the environmental impact further and increasing even more the sustainability of fibre networks over time.


Read more about the study The PwC study can be downloaded here