Will broadband networks make the world greener? Evaluating Pros and Cons of broadband development
Journal article, 2009
The environmental issue has generally received much attention from the public for decades, especially as a result of heavy industry - electrical energy, oil and gas, mining, steel and metals. Recently, attention has been paid to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and its effect on the knowledge and related industries. Broadband, both fixed and mobile, is not an exception. Even though it has been recognized as a factor that has contributed to social and economic development, a negative effect can also be seen in particular regarding the environment.
This paper provides a review of how government policy, in particular by the EU and Japan, are moving towards the transition to sustainability by utilizing ICT, as well as an evaluation of the pros and cons of broadband development. There are many complex effects on sustainability due to ICT. Since ICT can have environmental effects both as enabling energy efficiency and causing rebound effects, the policies should respond to both direct and indirect effects. To facilitate policy analysis and recommendations, this paper categorizes ICT impacts by five orders of aggregation. These five orders of aggregation may contribute both positively and negatively to sustainability, and each level will need targeted policies. The five orders of aggregation suggest a comprehensive and long term view of policy development, encompassing even policies that seek to improve the quality of decision making in our societies, by utilizing ICTs.