Are Fibre Optic cables more sustainable?

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ISDN phone lines are the standard for the majority of the UK’s small to medium businesses. However, by 2025 all ISDN phone lines are being switched over to VOIP or SIP lines delivered over a broadband service such as full fibre and businesses will have to migrate. With climate change becoming a more pressing issue with every passing year a lot of businesses are asking themselves how they can be more sustainable. So how can fibre help with this? With the 2025 ISDN Switch Off getting closer a lot of you may be wondering how changing to fibre can help your company have a greener future.


Copper is most commonly mined through open-pit mining. This type of mining is damaging to the environment because strategic minerals like copper are often only available in small concentrations, which increases the amount needed to be mined. Copper mining not only impacts the natural landscape but also releases chemicals into the air, the surrounding land and into local water ground.

Fibre, however, is made from glass with gets turned into silicon dioxide which can be found naturally on the earth's crust. Silicon dioxide is one of the most plentiful materials in the earth’s crust meaning it is easy to find and the mines don't have to be as deep as copper mines, minimising the toxic fumes going into the air. Except for temporarily disturbing the immediate area while mining operations are active, sand and gravel mining usually has a limited environmental impact.

Energy Saving

Fibre cables generally use seven times less energy than copper cables and are the most energy-efficient broadband technology. This is not just good for the planet but it could also save your business money in the long run, especially with energy prices currently skyrocketing across the UK. Fibre's energy efficiency causes it to emit less CO2, with fibre producing around 1.7 tons of CO2 per year, while the best copper option emits 2.7 tons. This is all because fibre has an increased capacity allowing it to send more at once using less energy. As fibre cables don't need to use electrical currents it also doesn't need cooling systems like copper cables. It also allows the fibre to transmit data over longer distances so it uses fewer connection amplifiers allowing it to use less electricity.


One of the biggest appeals about fibre cables is how durable they are meaning they won't need to be replaced nearly as often as copper cables. This means that less money will be spent on them, less will go to waste and engineers will produce fewer fuel emissions as they won't have to drive out to replace or fix them nearly as often. It was estimated that TalkTalk field engineers travel some 740,000 miles a year to identify and repair network faults, but with fewer faults, this number will fall by as much as a third cutting down on tonnes of GHG.


For many years there wasn't a way to recycle any kind of cable, especially fibre. Because there are so many materials that go into them, it has always been hard to strip them down and recycle them. Cables sent to landfills years ago are estimated to be there for another five centuries at least. luckily, people saw this as a problem and even though you still can't take fibre optic cables to your normal skip there are specialist companies that you can now find early online who will dispose of your leftover cable safely and sustainably.

If you don't think this is the option for you or you have struggled to find a recycling company that suits you there is always the option of scraping and reusing them. even if you don't have a purpose to re-use them yourself there are plenty of companies who will take them off your hands to use them for something else. However, if you only have small quantities of fibre cable waste companies might not be likely to buy it from you.

We recommend looking on recycling websites and asking companies that specialise in fibre optic cable recycling for further advice on this matter.


After reviewing all of the factors fibre optic cables are more sustainable than copper and can help your company have a greener future. If your company has the aim to become more sustainable we recommend changing to fibre optics. Not only will it boost your sustainability status but you will also get faster speeds. Fibre optic cables are a win-win situation for your company and the planet. find out more about how fibre optic cables can benefit your business by clicking here!

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