The terrestrial distribution of television signals is currently more efficient and less energy-consuming than IP-delivered content, a report for the regulator Ofcom has found.
Although it does not have statutory duties to consider environmental sustainability issues, Ofcom’s report commissioned from Carnstone recognises the importance of understanding factors which affect the stakeholders.
For both OTT and DTT services, most of the energy consumption is within the home rather than in the distribution system – TV sets, viewing devices, and in-home networks account for 90% of the energy used.
This includes devices within the home such as Wi-Fi networks and set-top boxes that are invariably left switched on, even of their power consumption is relatively low.
Outside of the home, the network transmission uses six times more energy for OTT based on current viewing volumes, though this is relatively low, and TV viewing is deemed to be a relatively low source of emissions overall.
One hour of viewing TV via terrestrial networks has an energy consumption of 9.1Wh whilst for streaming, this is 54Wh. In other words, viewing TV for an hour is approximately the same as boiling water for around 3-4 cups of tea.
Networks have become more efficient overall, not by reducing absolute energy consumption, but by serving more data traffic with a similar amount of energy.