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Laying the Groundwork for a Sustainable Telco Industry
January 27, 2021 Blog


Authored by: Ir. Kumari Nalini, Director of Engineering and Technology, edotco Group

Among the many things we learnt in 2020 is that strong and reliable connectivity is crucial to survive and thrive in this digital age. After all, the telecommunications industry can be considered a third utility, on par with electricity and water, and has been a literal lifeline for individuals, businesses, and nations throughout the pandemic.

With the constant developments in connectivity requirements, there is an urgent need to innovate and improve network infrastructure which is the backbone of the industry, with a strong foothold that can weather rapidly changing industry dynamics. At edotco, we believe the key to this is a sustainable framework that accounts for the effects that the business has on the environment and on society at large with the goal of a positive impact overall. Efforts must also be made for sustainability from a cost perspective, which allows for a long-term commitment as well as lasting impact.

As a regional player, we are committed to advancing a sustainable telecommunications industry and are able to do this while cohesively meeting the diverse telecommunications needs across our eight footprint countries in the region. With sustainability, there are two matters to be addressed – achieving sustainable growth and reducing the impact on the environment.

edotco’s sustainability initiatives are aligned to three scopes within the GHG Protocol, which encompasses all direct as well as owned indirect emissions from the activities of the organisation. Within these scopes, edotco focuses on reducing electricity and diesel consumption across its sites and offices while simultaneously intensifying efforts to roll out renewable energy on sites throughout our footprint countries. A progressive transition from diesel-fuelled sites to grid-powered sites has reduced emissions by 44% per site in Bangladesh. Currently, over 1,500 solar-powered sites have been deployed across edotco’s footprint, in addition to 12 wind turbine sites, 5 Solar and wind hybrid sites, 3 fuel cell sites, and 125 solar-powered air conditioners to serve as green cooling systems.

A part of the GHG protocol includes all the other remaining indirect emissions that occur in the company’s value chain. Setting our sight on addressing the environmental impact of telco infrastructure in this category, we focus our efforts on engineering greener, environmentally friendly towers. One such method involves optimising layouts and utilising renewable materials. Beyond using sustainable materials such as bamboo and carbon fibre for structures, we also develop and deploy leaner designs and smaller layouts that reduce our dependence on steel, in turn reducing carbon emissions.  For example, by designing and constructing 3-legged towers, which use 30% less steel than 4-legged structures, edotco has seen a 25% reduction in carbon emissions per site, and the deployment of 35 bamboo towers has reduced carbon emissions by 70% per site.

Spearheaded by an in-house Innovation and Sustainability team, edotco achieved a carbon footprint reduction of 54% per site, as verified by SIRIM QAS as of end 2018. Follow through efforts to continuously reach a higher carbon reduction rate include sustainable structure and site designs, green energy solutions, site waste management, sustainable packaging practices as well as a significant focus towards greening work practices and environments.

The sustainability movement championed by the Innovation and Sustainability team is supported by edotco’s Centre of Design Excellence (CoDE). edotco’s Centre of Design Excellence (CoDE), located in Bangladesh, brings together a talented pool of experts across the region in a cross-nation collaboration across edotco’s eight footprints in South and Southeast Asia. Serving as a think tank for the Group’s footprint countries, CoDE is focused on developing sustainable design solutions, advancing cost optimisation as well as research and development to craft solutions tailored for each market’s unique needs.

With innovation as part of the group’s DNA, edotco is committed to driving the development of next-generation infrastructure solutions for sustainable growth. With a focus on developing SOPs that can be adapted and rolled out to all the countries within our footprint, innovation is able to take place through lean and agile operations while ensuring time and cost-efficiency.

Connectivity is the commodity of the day and will remain so as the region and the rest of the world rapidly develop and digitalise processes. The whole ecosystem requires stronger policies and education to emphasise the importance of sustainability, which must be built into the organisation from the start. Towercos need to explore next-gen solutions and practices to ensure a sustainable telco industry for the future of connectivity. As we expand our footprint to connect more people, we remain committed to working with vendors and partners to explore innovative measures that work towards reducing our overall emissions.