‘5Genia’ or ‘5G-rbage’? Tech’s impact could save or destroy the environment


Chris Teale@chris_teale

Published Nov. 6, 2019

Dive Brief:
  • During a speech at the DC5G conference, Sara Neff, senior vice president for sustainability at the Kilroy Realty Corporation, outlined two environmental scenarios that could come in the wake of 5G: “5Genia” or “5G-rbage”.
  • In her “5Genia” scenario, Neff said 5G technology could enable all manner of new innovations like smart metering, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), and contribute to greater building energy efficiency. There could also be a reduction of environmental impact from 4G, which she said contributes about 2% in global emissions in large part due to the need to cool data centers. “5G may be the thing that saves us,” she said.
  • Neff warned, however, that the need to dispose of millions of electronic devices made obsolete by 5G could create a “5G-rbage” scenario, which would be proliferated by the evolution of connected devices and infrastructure. She suggested to avoid this scenario, 5G must work with existing devices.
Dive Insight:
Neff’s keynote address at DC5G was something of a rarity at the conference in Arlington, VA as it painted a more gloomy picture of the technology, which has otherwise been heralded as a way to close the digital divide, connect more people and enable businesses to be more efficient.
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