Network virtualization and connectivity solutions can help small and large businesses use less energy and lower their greenhouse gas emissions.

As the world moves towards a net-zero economy, businesses of all sizes are increasingly expected to play a larger role in climate change mitigation.

From investment firms and real estate developers to supermarket chains and apparel brands, many of the world’s largest companies have already announced environmental sustainability commitments. AT&T has set a bold target to be carbon neutral across our entire global operations by 2035.

Given the scale and urgency of the climate change challenge, it is clear that all companies have a role to play. Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are particularly crucial as they make up 90% of businesses worldwide1. SMEs today are under increasing pressure from customers, partners, investors and the global workforce to adopt environmentally sustainable business models. Addressing climate issues can also help future-proof a business, enhancing its reputation and competitiveness for the long term. But where to begin?

AT&T’s carbon neutral goal shows our commitment to reduce our own emissions, but we’re not stopping there. We’re also delivering solutions that help our customers achieve their net zero ambitions. Since 2015, we have been working with business customers and other organizations to drive broadband-enabled technologies that help reduce energy usage and emissions. In fact, we recently announced a goal to develop solutions that help enable our customers to collectively reduce a gigaton of emissions by 2035. Our Connected Climate Initiative leverages 5G, Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC) and other connectivity solutions to help businesses lower their impact on the environment.

Virtualizing network functions

Improving network efficiency is an effective way for companies to reduce emissions and strengthen their long-term outlook in a world shaped by climate change. Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) technologies can make it possible for companies to use new technology to eliminate the need to purchase, run and maintain stacks of specialized, energy-intensive network equipment.

By deploying an infrastructure solution like AT&T FlexWare, businesses can virtualize the functions of multiple single-purpose network devices on a single low-cost, energy-efficient device or in the cloud. This uses significantly less energy for power and cooling and contributes to a smaller greenhouse gas emissions footprint for the company.

AT&T FlexWare also makes it easier to quickly deploy and efficiently manage multiple virtualized network functions, helping companies acquire new capabilities faster and scale as required. The solution reduces IT complexity and increases flexibility and reliability across multiple environments.

Accelerating connectivity

Broadband connectivity – including 5G and edge computing – is another critical component for businesses embracing ambitious environmental goals. Faster, more efficient networks enable companies to adopt emissions-reduction solutions by allowing them to monitor equipment and infrastructure and better manage resources like electricity, fuel, water, and raw materials.

Small problems can waste money and energy at a manufacturing plant. For example, AT&T MEC + 5G can help such a business identify and address these inefficiencies and reduce emissions.

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AT&T MEC is an on-premises edge solution that uses 5G to bring capabilities like artificial intelligence, augmented reality, machine learning, video monitoring and predictive analytics to the office or factory to help uncover inefficiencies, enable equipment to run optimally, and reduce emissions.

Time and again, we have seen that tailored networking and communications solutions can help companies both meet their emissions reduction goals and unlock business value.

To read more about AT&T NFV solutions, click here; for more about how broadband-enabled solutions promote environmental sustainability, click here.