Energy: will operators turn off internet boxes overnight?

The words of Minister Jean-Noël Barrot on the extinction of internet boxes caused controversy on Monday. If a standby of the boxes is well mentioned by the operators, it would remain partial and decided by the user.

After the water heater, the box. This Monday, October 10, Jean-Noël Barrot, Minister Delegate for the Digital Transition and Telecommunications, answered the issues of Europe 1. In this exchange, Dimitri Pavlenko questions the minister about internet boxes: “Will it turn itself off at night, controlled remotely by the operator? It is the objective. The objective is to reduce energy consumption without requiring too great an effort from the French.

A sentence that has aroused many reactions on the networks, between ironic remarks, denunciations of authoritarian excesses and worries vis-à-vis the operation of objects connected to the boxes, such as fixed telephones, connected thermostats and other security systems.

What did the minister really say?

This sentence of Jean-Noël Barrot, in reality, is in fact a clumsiness of language. In the rest of his remarks, the Minister specifies that he is not referring to a “cut-off” controlled remotely, but rather a mode “standby” which would activate when the box is unused: “Today there are boxes, decoders which go into standby automatically, but all this is not entirely uniform and the commitments made by the sector, it is either, for existing boxes and already installed, to make an update that allows this standby mode a little more systematically; or, for the new boxes that will be distributed, that this standby is installed by default, so that it is transparent for the French.

Generalize sleep setting

After the start of the controversy, Jean-Noël Barrot’s cabinet clarified its comments to AFP, indicating that it “it’s not about shutting off the internet at night”but many “to generalize, for operators or equipment manufacturers, the hibernation parameter for boxes”.

“It’s about having a standby, generated by default, either after a certain period of inactivity, or when the box no longer detects any device connected to Wi-Fi. […] This setting also allows the box to reactivate as soon as it again detects a device connected to it.

But will sleep be enabled by default for all users at night? No more. Contacted by CheckNewsthe ministry further clarifies its statements: “Which is “by default”, it is the presence of this option in the box. But the activation (or not) of this option remains in the hand of the user. Orange also explains that a “default” setting for the automatic standby mode of boxes “not on the agenda”. “We must first do some education to make customers aware of the existence of standby mode. Then, its activation must remain a choice in the hand of the customer, according to his uses and constraints”expands the operator.

A “sleep mode”, but only for TV decoders?

Still, the deployment of this “sleep mode” on the boxes, despite discussions related to the energy sobriety plan, does not seem to be for now. Of the operators contacted, only Orange seems to have integrated a mode “deep sleep” on his last box, which would make it possible to “up to 93% energy savings”; the others are content to encourage their customers to turn off the Wi-Fi, whether through a scheduling application, like at Free or SFR, or by directly using the Wi-Fi off button located on their box.

On the other hand, the standby mentioned applies to TV decoders, targeted by all operators. SFR thus evokes a “TV decoder deep standby” , more advanced than the standby mode currently available; Free confirms “propose a new Energy Saving TV menu […] allowing you to configure different standbys for the TV Box» ; Finally, Bouygues Telecom indicates that the customer “can configure in its space a deep sleep mode”of the TV decoder.

A maneuver that is both effective and easier to perform. TV decoders consume almost as much energy as year-round boxes (87 kWh against 97 kWh, according to Ademe); above all, putting them on standby has no impact on the operation of other equipment. Because, as Orange explains, “the “deep sleep” mode of a box disconnects the Wi-Fi and the equipment connected by cable”: a list that includes the fixed telephone but also all the connected objects in the home. A real problem for customers using connected alarms, home automation or even connected thermostats, the operation of which can generate significant energy savings.



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Energy: will operators turn off internet boxes overnight?


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