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This paper investigates the electricity consumption of the telecommunications network in the United States. The scope of the study covers the 'voice' network, including equipment used by both the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN)-used by traditional 'wired' phone companies-and the cellular network-used by wireless companies. Building on results from a previous study, the estimated total electricity consumption of the telecommunications network in the US was found to be 29-34 TWh/year, or about 0.8% to 0.9% of the US total electricity consumption. This paper analyzes the breakdown of the electricity consumption between the PSTN and the cellular network, and found the cellular network to be about 2 times more energy efficient in terms of energy used per subscriber connection; while the PSTN network is more energy efficient in terms of electricity consumed per call-minute. With the increasing trend of wireless subscriberships while the number of wired customers remains about constant, the energy efficiency of the cellular network is expected to grow, since the equipment requirements of the cellular network do not scale up proportionately with the number of cellular users.
Date of Conference: 19-22 May 2003