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AT&T, Verizon Pledge to Improve Energy Efficiency of Home Internet Equipment

AT&T, Verizon, and Cisco are among the dozens of internet service providers, equipment suppliers and retail equipment manufacturers to join the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) in announcing a new voluntary agreement to improve the energy efficiency of internet modems, routers and other equipment that deliver broadband to millions of American consumers.

Other companies to sign on include Charter Communications, Comcast, DIRECTV, Bright House Networks, Cablevision, CenturyLink, Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable, Actiontec, ARRIS, D-Link, EchoStar Technologies, NETGEAR and Pace and Ubee Interactive.

The agreement sets rigorous requirements that will improve the energy efficiency of small network equipment (SNE) by 10 to 20 percent compared to typical, recently-deployed devices and cover more than 90 percent of U.S. broadband households — roughly 80 million homes.

Set to run through 2017, the agreement is modeled on the successful voluntary agreement for set-top box energy conservation, launched in 2013 by the pay-TV industry, consumer electronics manufacturers and energy efficiency advocates, CEA says.

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In its first year the set-top box voluntary agreement achieved a 4.4 percent reduction in national energy consumption by set-top boxes, even as deployed stock increased that year. According to the agreement’s first annual report, the improved set-top box energy efficiency saved American consumers roughly $168 million in energy bills and nearly 842,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) — equivalent to the output of one-half of a large power plant.

As with the set-top box agreement, this new voluntary commitment requires broadband service providers and retail equipment manufacturers to publicly report SNE energy use, including annual progress reports by an independent third party. Additionally, the agreement mandates annual verification audits to ensure SNE devices are performing at the efficiency levels specified in the agreement, and regular consultation and engagement with regulatory authorities and other stakeholders.

Although there are more consumer electronics in U.S. homes than ever, those devices now account for a lower percentage of electricity usage per household than they did three years ago, according to the CEA study Energy Consumption of Consumer Electronics in U.S. Homes in 2013.

This also could be a boon to the economy. Energy efficiency is estimated to be a multi-hundred-billion dollar investment opportunity in the United States, but better policies are required to unlock broad-based financing from institutional investors, according to a 2013 report by Ceres and its Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR).

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