The Energy Intensity of the Internet: Home and Access Networks

  • Vlad C. CoroamaEmail author
  • Daniel Schien
  • Chris Preist
  • Lorenz M. Hilty
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 310)


Estimates of the energy intensity of the Internet diverge by several orders of magnitude. We present existing assessments and identify diverging definitions of the system boundary as the main reason for this large spread. The decision of whether or not to include end devices influences the result by 1–2 orders of magnitude. If end devices are excluded, customer premises equipment (CPE) and access networks have a dominant influence. Of less influence is the consideration of cooling equipment and other overhead, redundancy equipment, and the amplifiers in the optical fibers. We argue against the inclusion of end devices when assessing the energy intensity of the Internet, but in favor of including CPE, access networks, redundancy equipment, cooling and other overhead as well as optical fibers. We further show that the intensities of the metro and core network are best modeled as energy per data, while the intensity of CPE and access networks are best modeled as energy per time (i.e., power), making overall assessments challenging. The chapter concludes with a formula for the energy intensity of CPE and access networks. The formula is presented both in generic form as well as with concrete estimates of the average case to be used in quick assessments by practitioners. The next chapter develops a similar formula for the core and edge networks. Taken together, the two chapters provide an assessment method of the Internet’s energy intensity that takes into account different modeling paradigms for different parts of the network.


Internet Energy intensity Energy efficiency Customer premises equipment Access network 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vlad C. Coroama
    • 1
    Email author
  • Daniel Schien
    • 2
  • Chris Preist
    • 2
  • Lorenz M. Hilty
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Measure-IT ResearchBucharestRomania
  2. 2.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  3. 3.Department of InformaticsUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  4. 4.EmpaSwiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and TechnologySt. GallenSwitzerland
  5. 5.Centre for Sustainable Communications CESCKTH Royal Institute of TechnologyStockholmSweden

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