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Across Europe, people are rethinking what they rely on the internet for: balancing classic demands for speed and reliability, with the growing needs of rising eco-consciousness, secure cloud infrastructure, and the increase of the Internet of Things (IoT) connecting our devices, from smart cars to home appliances. This trend perfectly aligns with the European Commission’s Digital Decade 2030, where secure and sustainable digital infrastructure is one of the top 4 priorities.

The 2023 Cisco Broadband Survey finds that as over 68% of consumers in Europe expect to connect cars, appliances, energy and water to the internet, broadband networks must scale to support new connectivity needs. Broadband is also seen by 77% of survey participants in Europe as critical national infrastructure, escalating the need for to accelerate the move towards a more sustainable and secure internet for all.

Need for more spectrum confirmed by connectivity increase as consumers expand digital lives

As the number of connected devices grows from billions to trillions, so does the demand for bandwidth and processing power to analyse all the data produced. According to the Cisco Broadband Survey, there’s no sign of this slowing down. Consumers are embracing the shift toward an ever more digital life. A majority of Europeans surveyed already have, or expect to have, their cars (64%), home appliances (68%), energy (74%) and water (61%) connected.

This is yet another signal for policymakers to ensure the need for more bandwidth is met by allocating more spectrum to mobile and wireless networks and removing existing barriers to the uptake of digital technologies.

Whilst half of consumers surveyed indicated feeling positive about new ways to connect their homes and lives to the internet, a majority (67%) saying that the cost-of-living crisis has changed the way they spend money on digital services: 18% have reported moving to a lower cost broadband package and 15% have cancelled streaming services.

Consumers want sustainable broadband

Whilst speed remains the main reason for those planning to upgrade their broadband, the carbon-cost of connectivity is a concern for 64% European surveyed, with young people aged 18-24 the most worried. In addition, 72% said they would be willing to pay more for sustainable broadband, with around a fifth prepared to pay a price premium of more than 20%.

This supports a wider market trend, shown in a 2019 survey by Nielsen and a 2022 survey by Globescan, revealing widespread consumer awareness around the environmental impact of the products they use and a demand for companies to step up and mitigate negative impacts on the planet.

The carbon footprint of the information and communications technology sector is estimated to account for around 2.1 – 3.9% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and more than half of that comes from networks and data centers. Transition to next-generation networks and improved network efficiency with further adoption of ICT tools, while accelerating the move to renewable energy sources, are all essential responses for greening telecoms networks.[1]

The latest Wi-Fi technologies excel in low-power, cognitive radio techniques including spectrum sensing, spectrum sharing, and adaptive transmission and explain why national regulators have recommended consumers to switch to using Wi-Fi when at home during periods of peak energy consumption.[2]

Securing more bandwidth for sustainable reliable connectivity

Cisco is on a mission to transform the Internet for the Future, focusing on designing products with energy efficiency and security in mind, including circular economy principles in product development and business operations, and taking a smart and sustainable approach to lifecycle management.

Whilst speed, cost and reliability remain critical, building sustainable secure networks that can fuel global connectivity and automation has become a top priority. The European Union has been working on the development of new policies to support industry investment and as we approach World Radiocommunication Conference 2023 (WRC-23), we trust governments will seize the opportunity to secure more bandwidth for sustainable reliable connectivity.

 


About the Cisco Broadband Survey

The Cisco Broadband Survey is based on a survey of workers across 12 countries in EMEA. The extracted European data in this blog steams from 16,625 workers in the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the Netherlands. It was completed during January and February 2023. The sample includes respondents based in every region of each country, who either work full-time remotely; full-time in an office; hybrid, between home and the office; or on the frontline. The poll was conducted by independent research consultancy Censuswide, who abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society – which is based on the ESOMAR principles.

[1] ETNO, “The State of Digital Communications 2023” 2023

[2] Wi-Fi Alliance, “Wi-Fi: sustainable connectivity” 2023