Connecting To A Green Future With Optical Networks


Optical Cross-Connect (OXC) has helped build a greener network in Sichuan, marking a crucial step towards the harmonious coexistence of nature and technology, one that can be replicated in a diverse range of scenarios, writes KYRA MI.

How We’re Making Green Communications Happen

The communications industry is the cornerstone of the intelligent world of tomorrow and will continue to profoundly impact the way we live and work. But to make the intelligent world happen in a sustainable way, we need to protect the planet – the planet that we all depend on for survival.

Over the past few decades on the innovation journey, we’ve remained strict on calculating the carbon footprint of our products, and constantly pushed the limits of low-energy consumption in our ongoing commitment to fighting climate change. We also believe in using technology to sense and monitor the natural world, as well as connect everyone and everything.

Cool Tech for Cooling the Planet

Huawei believes that technology should exist in a healthy symbiosis with nature, an belief that’s intrinsic to the design of our products and solutions.

Visual display of the Network Nodes in Sichuan

GeSI’s SMARTer2030 report predicts that carbon dioxide emissions from the ICT industry will continue to fall as a percentage of global emissions thanks to continuous improvements in the energy efficiency of ICT equipment. Other industries can also slash carbon emissions by deploying ICT solutions. Encouraging forecasts show that by 2030, the total reduction in CO2 emissions achieved by the deployment of digital technology will be around 10 times higher than the emissions produced by the ICT industry itself.

To achieve targets for reducing energy use and emissions, it’s vital that all operators and equipment vendors work together in a spirit of shared responsibility. In Sichuan, we have joined forces with China Telecom to achieve our respective green development goals through innovative optical fiber technology and revolutionary connection methods.

Fiber is an environmentally friendly medium, using 60 per cent to 75 per cent less energy than copper. Based on this, we’ve developed all-optical backplane technology that allows us to print over 1,000 optical fibers on an optical backplane the size of an A4 sheet of paper. In turn, we’ve used the backplane to create a series of OXC products that reduce equipment room footprint by 90 per cent and realize power consumption savings of 60 per cent.

China Telecom Sichuan seeks to achieve low-carbon telecommunications and green development – it started constructing an all-optical network to completely replace copper cables with fiber back in 2012. From affluent urban centers to remote villages nestled deep in the mountains and snowy plateaus – all are now covered by this green network.

“As we respond to digital transformation and the mid- to long-term challenges brought by the development of new services in the cloud connectivity era, Huawei’s OXC product meets the needs of rapidly growing networks thanks to the optical cube network. It also lets us realize the potential for sustainable development that large bandwidth, low latency, low-power network systems bring.”

In 2020, China Telecom Sichuan began upgrading its network with Huawei’s OXC equipment in 12 provincial backbone core nodes in its province-wide fiber network, taking the construction of a green network to the next level.

Ya’an: Building a Greener Sichuan

Referred to by locals as the “lungs of Sichuan”, Ya’an city has become one of the first demo zones for green digitalization under a flagship project to make it the digital center of China’s west. All-optical connectivity using Huawei technology will green communications and usher in a new eco-friendly dawn for Sichuan.

On the ground, OXC has helped solve a host of issues such as uneven network traffic, insufficient equipment room resources, and excessive space used by traditional ROADM solutions in equipment rooms. This has helped boost the recognition of Ya’an’s digital initiative. Through forming an optical cube network, this new connection method for network sites can meet the demands of large broadband, low latency, and low-energy consumption networks.

Thanks to the green power of the OXC solution, the optical cube bearer network can conserve 250,000 kWh per year, the equivalent of planting more than 2,000 trees. When Sichuan completes the all-optical city project, it will save 8 million kWh of power – the equivalent of over 64,000 trees – per year.

The eco-friendly benefits of the technology will also help the communications industry achieve sustainable development targets for energy conservation. In the future, our optical fiber technology will benefit more places and enable more industries to cut carbon emissions. Huawei hopes to work with more operators and equipment vendors from across the world. Together, we can move forward and forge ICT innovations that can preserve biodiversity, resources, and natural beauty, and help achieve a better future for humanity through sustainable development. Let’s ensure that technology and nature coexist in harmony.

  • Kyra Mi is a technology journalist for Huawei’s online publications.

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