Environmental effects of wireless technologies



This paper compares the environmental effects of wireless technologies to the traditional applications for which they can substitute. Two comparisons are conducted. The first examines the impacts of reading newspaper content loaded onto a personal digital assistant (PDA) compared to the traditional way of reading a newspaper. Millions of people read news content online, and ICT is increasingly substituting for traditional hardcopy news. A study notes, “The considerable information content of most newspapers, combined with high fixed costs and the subsidizing of content by advertising, makes them particularly vulnerable to electronic substitution”. Another report found that only half of the executives surveyed from 400 U.S. companies expect that they will obtain their news from traditional daily newspapers in the future. The second scenario compares wireless teleconferencing to business travel. Increased use of telecommunications in lieu of business trips are often justified in tougher economic times and for employees who either already travels frequently or who are averse to travel. Video and teleconferencing technologies are substituting for business travel, especially internal meetings. Given continuous improvements in ICT’s audio and visual quality and features, it is increasingly feasible that wireless telecommunication will substitute for time-consuming and both economically and environmentally expensive business travel. ICT may be particularly suitable to substitute for follow-up meetings among participants who have already met rather than serving as a forum for initial introductions.

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