Electricity consumption of Internet boxes: the truth thanks to Arcep

How much do Internet boxes, TV decoders and Wi-Fi repeaters that work permanently in our homes actually consume? We will soon know thanks to Arcep, which collects measurements from operators.

In a context of widespread economic and ecological crisis, it is more important than ever to control and reduce energy consumption. And especially its power consumption. Because with an ever-increasing number of devices in homes, the bill can quickly climb, with unpleasant surprises due to hidden costs. And while the Government launched a major communication campaign a few weeks ago to raise public awareness of this critical subject by encouraging it to adopt eco-responsible actions, several institutions are pursuing concrete long-term actions to control the problems linked to energy and the environment.

Arcep measurements: the electricity consumption of boxes under surveillance

This is the case of the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications, Posts and Press Distribution (Arcep), which since 2020 has been collecting various data on their environmental impact from digital players – in particular the main telecom operators – in order to carry out a survey on “sustainable digital”. A first edition has already been published, a second will arrive in the spring of 2023, and a third at the end of the year. For the latter, theArcep Since the start of the year, it has been extending its data collection to manufacturers of terminals (smartphones, computers, connected televisions, etc.) and to operators of data centers. But it also intends to closely monitor the consumption of boxes, TV decoders and other repeaters Wireless which often consume more electricity than you might think, especially since they generally stay on all the time. And the regulator, who published this January 5, 2023 the detailed procedure of the measurement protocol does things pretty well taking into account different use cases, to better stick to reality.

This approach meets several objectives: to inform about the environmental impacts of the digital sector; identify the activities of economic actors likely to have an impact on the environment; encourage these same actors to target their actions towards the most effective measures in terms of environmental impact; follow the evolution of the data in order to see the impact of the actions of protection of the environment.

Arcep collects more and more data over the years, which allows it to draw up fiber optic, 4G and 5G coverage maps in France for example. The Authority now collects data from manufacturers of terminals such as smartphones, computers, connected televisions, but also operator boxes, TV decoders and Wi-Fi repeaters. For terminal manufacturers, the data concerns emissions of greenhouse gases due to manufacture and sale, the volume of rare earths and precious metals used for manufacture, the sales volumes of new and refurbished terminals, their total duration of use and the electricity consumption of televisions and computer screens.

First edition of the report for a sustainable digital. © Arcep

The telecoms policeman will also collect measurements in data centers in France on their greenhouse gas emissions, the maximum electrical power of computer equipment in data centers, their energy and electricity consumption and on the volumes of water used. Finally, Arcep asks operators to specify the electricity consumption of the equipment provided to their customers, i.e. internet boxes (live boxFreebox…), TV decoders and Wi-Fi repeaters, in order to compare the data between them and inform the consumer about the factors that influence the electrical consumption of this equipment.

Consumption of Internet boxes: a protocol adapted to real situations

The measurement of the electrical consumption of internet box, Wi-Fi repeaters and TV decoders will be carried out in five situations. First of all, it will be a question of measuring the consumption of a box which is not connected to any PC and of another which has not activated Wi-Fi and has no traffic. Another measure is planned by leaving the box connected to a PC and activating Wi-Fi while having no traffic. Finally, two measurements will have to be carried out in the event of traffic with a bandwidth of 5 Mbit/s and with a bit rate of 50 Mbit/s.

1673025383 470 Electricity consumption of Internet boxes the truth thanks to Arcep
First edition of the report for a sustainable digital. © Arcep

For Wi-Fi repeaters, three cases will be studied: an unused Wi-Fi repeater, a Wi-Fi repeater used with a client connected without any traffic and a Wi-Fi repeater used with an active flow. Finally, the consumption of the decoders will be measured with a decoder in standby, 20 minutes after standby and stopped directly, as well as in four different situations: when viewing a live channel, when the decoder is not connected to a TNT antenna, when playing a replay and on a popular OTT service (netflix and YouTube).

All of these measurements will ultimately provide a more precise view of the real consumption of this digital equipment, which is now essential in our daily lives. They will also be accompanied by the implementation by the operators of tools allowing subscribers to manage the state – and therefore the consumption – of their equipment more precisely, in particular the boxes. Manufacturers and ISPs have already become aware of the problem, starting to offer less energy-consuming and more ecological equipment, like the latest boxes ofOrange and of Bouygues Telecom. The beginning of a real change?

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Electricity consumption of Internet boxes: the truth thanks to Arcep

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