This is the conviction of Emanuele Iannetti, president and CEO of Ericsson in Italy, who talks about the group’s strategies on the side of innovation and sustainability, focused on the development of 5G. “A technology”, he explains, “that in carbon-intensive sectors can allow annual savings in terms of CO2e emissions equal to one seventh of all cars circulating in the European Union”.
Ericsson was recently named one of the most sustainable companies in Italy and in the world. How can digitization, networks and broadband contribute to global challenges?
We are proud to have just been confirmed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index globally and to be among the Green Stars of sustainability in Italy, excelling in the “Technology and Hardware” category. Sustainability is increasingly at the center of Ericsson’s vision of a world in which limitless connectivity can improve people’s lives, transform companies and open the doors to a more sustainable future. For over a century, Ericsson’s technologies have had a positive impact on entire sectors of society, and today each of our products, solutions or projects contributes to the achievement of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We need to work, all together, to extend the benefits of digitization to an increasing number of people, because it would mean, for example, improving access to education and health care, ensuring greater financial and social inclusion and helping to combat change. climatic.
How important is it to put sustainability at the center of the agenda for a telecommunications company?
Responsible business, environmental sustainability and digital inclusion: these are the three pillars of sustainability for Ericsson. The growing importance of ESG issues in corporate strategy leads Ericsson to measure its impact on the planet and society in a transparent and scrupulous way. For example, thanks to growing investments in research and development, Ericsson’s 5G product portfolio is already 6.6 times more energy efficient than 4G (with the same amount of data transferred) and we intend to increase it to 10 by 2022. We have also created the “Breaking the energy curve” model, which allows mobile operators to achieve significant energy efficiencies in the implementation of their 5G networks, making the most of both software capabilities and artificial intelligence. The way in which networks are designed is also fundamental. There has been a lot of talk about metaverse lately, but Ericsson has been using NVIDIA’s Omniverse for some time to build digital twins of entire neighborhoods in Sweden, in which to accurately simulate the interaction between 5G cells and the environment, and thus get the most out of it. in terms of performance and coverage.
It is equally essential to promote actions for digital inclusion. This is why we contribute to the Unicef and Itu Giga Initiative, which aims to connect every school to the Internet by 2030 starting from the mapping of connectivity. It is a vital first step in providing every child with access to digital learning opportunities.
What role can 5G play for a more sustainable future?
The use of 5G technology in four carbon-intensive sectors – energy, transportation, manufacturing and construction – can ensure annual emissions savings of between 55 and 170 million tonnes of CO2e. It would be like taking one in seven cars, more than 35 million vehicles off the roads of the European Union.
Only this data gives us an idea of the role that 5G can play in the digital and ecological transition plans of individual countries. Governments and industry must work together to implement modern infrastructure such as 5G. Unfortunately this is not happening as fast or smoothly as it should. For example, while the US and China are investing heavily, Europe is lagging behind. Barriers to dissemination such as delays in issuing permits, complex site access rules and slow spectrum allocation need to be addressed urgently.
Well the Italian government which, with “Italy 5G“, Defined the national public intervention plan to incentivize the construction of network infrastructures for the development and diffusion of 5G. In this way it will be possible to fully satisfy the demand for mobile connectivity by citizens, businesses and public administrations, and enable a multiplicity of use cases.
A few examples?
We have it in the house. Ericsson’s 5G Smart Factory in Texas has been recognized by the World Economic Forum as a world-class state-of-the-art facility and awarded the prestigious “Global Lighthouse”. The facility, which occupies an area of approximately 30,000 square meters, is an integral part of Ericsson’s global supply chain and is helping to accelerate the deployment of 5G in the United States and create new jobs.
5G allows for secure and reliable mobile connections, with low latency and very broadband, in line with the stringent requirements of various industrial applications. This performance would not be achievable with other wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi. More than 200 mobile robots connected in 5G collaborate in a safe and extremely efficient way, significantly increasing the productivity of the factory compared to plants built and managed in a traditional way. One figure above all, thanks to the improvements introduced by automation, we recorded a 120% increase in productivity per single employee. The structure was also designed to reduce water consumption by 75%, energy by 24% and reduce carbon emissions to zero.
5G will make workplaces safer, more efficient and sustainable and can enable new types of collaborations, benefiting business, people and society.
What role can telecommunications companies play in our country?
Ericsson has been present in Italy for 103 years and has contributed to making telecommunications accessible to everyone, thanks to important technological innovations first in the fixed and then in the mobile. In the last 20 years alone, Italian Research and Development centers have generated more than 750 patents. Today we travel at the rate of about 1 patent every 10 days.
Research is the heart of innovation in every country. A recent study by the CNR shows that an investment of one euro in research and development in a high-tech sector generates a multiplier effect equal to 2.4 euro in the real economy. Italian researchers are among the best in the world, but there are too many weaknesses in the system that do not allow a return of this knowledge in terms of innovation and competitiveness with the rest of the world.
Italy has been the undisputed protagonist of the telecommunications industry in the past, when the presence of research and development by large industrial groups allowed the country to play a leading role also in the definition of standards. Unfortunately, the lack of a solid industrial policy has led to the loss of revenues, investments and talent. It divested into R&D and many companies have left the country or have been consolidating.
How to reverse the trend?
Public policies are necessarily needed aimed at encouraging the development of high-tech sectors. It is necessary for Italy to consider the tax credit applicable to all companies that have research and development centers in our country, even if the activities are commissioned from abroad. A systemic and integrated approach based on large projects should be implemented, thus avoiding fragmentation or incentives to rain. It is necessary to guarantee stable, clear and certain regulatory frameworks, so that companies can plan medium-long term investments and finally, it would be advisable to encourage more partnerships between public and private research.
Putting research and development at the center means for the country to return to innovation and above all to take that path that leads to the economic, social and cultural development that Italy needs.