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Report on Best Practices in

Subsea Telecommunications Sustainability

By Nicole Starosielski (Lead Author), Iago Bojczuk, Anne Pasek, George N. Ramírez, Nicholas R. Silcox, Anjali Sugadev, and Hunter Vaughan

Jan. 2024

Sustainable Subsea Networks Best Practices Report 2023.jpg

Over the past ten years, there has been a growing awareness of Internet infrastructure and its impacts on the planet. Researchers, policy-makers, and companies have all sought to assess and reduce the carbon emissions produced by Internet infrastructure, largely focused on data centers. Subsea telecommunications cables, which transport over 99% of all transoceanic data traffic via 1.4 million kilometers of cable globally, have remained almost entirely absent in these discussions. This omission is in part due to the relatively small carbon footprint of subsea cable systems. Indeed, subsea telecommunications cables have long been recognized as enabling a more sustainable future, providing opportunities for reduced travel, more efficient access to information, and enabling international climate-related science, in addition to underpinning the social and economic fabric of our world through global communications.

Sustainable Subsea Networks Map documents sustainability initiatives across the subsea cable industry.

Designed and produced by TeleGeography, in partnership with the SubOptic Foundation's

Sustainable Subsea Networks research initiative and funded by an Internet Society Foundation grant.

Remote Work Carbon Emissions Savings Calculator

Based on data provided by industry partners, SSN researchers develop the first calculator in the industry to measure carbon emission savings in transitioning to remote work. Plot the meeting frequency, timeframe, number of participants per meetings, as well relevant information related to travel to find out how much CO2 your organization can save per each project.

Subsea Cable Carbon Emissions Calculator

The Subsea Cable Carbon Emissions Calculator is a spreadsheet tool developed that provides an estimate of the climate impacts of subsea cable projects from planning to end-of-life decommissioning. It was formulated using a combination of anonymized data from several currently existing systems and peer reviewed Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) data for different source components. Its default calculations contemplate a transatlantic system with only 2 CLS, and with parameters that represent norms in the industry today. Users are therefore encouraged to substitute their own data to personalize their results, and to use the tool to weigh the potential tradeoffs and carbon savings between different scenarios in the planning stage of a project. 


We thank our industry partners for the feedback and data sharing that made this tool possible. We welcome further comments and additions to ensure that our tool remains representative of contemporary practices.

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