Lack of OEM support biggest reason for equipment decommissioning
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Lack of OEM support biggest reason for equipment decommissioning

TXO Sustainability, support,

New research from circular economy telecoms vendor TXO has found that the biggest reason for telecom equipment being decommissioned is the end of support contracts from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

The research, which is published today in a whitepaper, surveyed more than 50 global operators to understand the scale and drivers of why equipment is taken out of service.

29.2% of operators surveyed say a lack of OEM support is the main reason, surpassing priorities such as reducing operational expenses, complying with regulations, and addressing power considerations.

This is a worry for those interested in reducing waste in the industry, as operators also expect that an average of 20-30% of their equipment will be unsupported within the next two years.

Kieran Crawford, group director at TXO, thinks that the absence of extended support for OEM equipment is a result of a relentless pursuit of selling new products.

“Operators must shift away from the perpetual cycle of purchasing new equipment and instead explore avenues to prolong the lifespan of their current network assets," he said.

Crawford argues that maintaining the status quo will lead to substantial costs for operators and exacerbate their carbon footprint beyond what is already happening today.

TXO are aiming to address this problem by offering support contracts for technology no longer covered by the vendor it was bought from, or the opportunity to replace equipment through its inventory of second-hand kit.

Speaking on a press roundtable this week, TXO’s group head of asset recovery & services, David Evans, said while a standard OEM support contract would ensure a replacement of repair within 30-60 days, TXO had been able to offer US based networking systems and software company Ciena support on faulty equipment within just 24 hours.

Of course, lack of vendor support contracts are not the only reason for decommissioning old technology.

82% of operators surveyed expect an operational cost reduction of 10-30% from decommissioning activity, while regulatory requirements such as the need to replace unsafe equipment also plays a role.

Removal of equipment from specific vendors, such as the EU and US’s ban on Huawei also plays a role, with 24% of operators saying they are removing hardware provided by sanctioned vendors as a priority.

TXO’s research found that 61% of operators are expecting to achieve a power reduction of between 5% and 30% through replacing legacy equipment. This could include old 2G and 3G equipment, which 33% of operators say they are removing as a priority.

John Teasdale, group chief networks officer at TXO, thinks operators may be underestimating the impact on power consumption and costs.

“By optimising infrastructure, both in terms of quantity and efficiency of hardware, operators could save significantly on power,” he says.

“Every kilowatt saved on equipment means another saved in cooling, with a 50% reduction in power consumption across sites being achievable."

As far as 2G and 3G sunsetting is concerned, TXO found that the operators it surveyed are utilising the circular economy to support decommissioning.

63% of operators surveyed say they are purchasing second-user equipment to maintain networks during the decommissioning process.

In addition to buying second-life tech, 78% of operators resell a portion of their decommissioned hardware and 22% of respondents resell more than half. Slightly more (25%) recycle over half their equipment, while 80% of operators say they recycle some of their decommissioned hardware.

Leveraging equipment elsewhere within the network however is relatively uncommon.

More than half of respondents say they are re-purposing less than 10% of their decommissioned hardware.

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