Energy and carbon footprint of ubiquitous broadband
AffiliationElectrical and Electronic Engineering
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2017 Dr Sascha Suessspeck
This thesis concerns ubiquitous broadband in Australia. We use a comparative-static computable general equilibrium model to analyse the economic effects, and to derive the environmental effects of the National Broadband Network (NBN) in the short term and long term. While investment is significantly increased due to NBN deployment in the short term, overall economic activity increases marginally. We find that national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are effectively unchanged by the construction of the NBN. We run model long-run simulations to analyse the impact of new services and new ways of working that are enabled by the NBN. The simulation results are dependent on our estimates of the incremental impact of the NBN on service delivery. For this purpose, we map the coverage of broadband in Australian regions using an open-source geographical information system (GIS). We then define two sets of service requirements and determine service availability across regions with and without the NBN. The results show that the NBN produces substantial benefit when services require higher bandwidths than today’s offerings to the majority of end users. In this scenario, the economic effects of productivity improvements facilitated by electronic commerce, telework or telehealth practice made widely available through the NBN will be sufficient to achieve a net improvement to the Australian economy over and above the economic cost of deploying the NBN itself. If, on the other hand, the NBN has a significant effect only on the availability of entertainment services, then the net effect will not be sufficient to outweigh the cost of deployment. We find that national GHG emissions increase with service availability and are higher with the NBN. We construct an NBN power consumption model to estimate the purchased electricity and GHG emissions of the NBN network in the long term post NBN deployment. We find that the NBN network increases energy demand and GHG emissions marginally. The main contributions resulting from this thesis relate to the model simulations. Detailed analysis of the economic and environmental effects of the NBN on the Australian economy provides policymakers and researchers new insights based on a state-of-the-art methodology. Beyond the regional scope of this thesis, the results provide fresh evidence of the rebound effect and GHG emissions abatement potential of ubiquitous technologies such as broadband. While this thesis points at the possible trade-offs when evaluating economic policy faced by various individuals or groups, an efficient way to achieve a more sustainable outcome is to address externalities related to GHG emissions directly by way of implementing appropriate environmental policies.
KeywordsNational Broadband Network (NBN); geospatial analysis (GIS); general equilibrium analysis (CGE); telework; electronic commerce; telehealth; entertainment; cloud computing; online higher education; carbon emissions; rebound effect; energy efficiency
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