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Consumer Technology Association

Voluntary Agreement for Ongoing Improvement to the Energy Efficiency of Small Network Equipment

What the judges said…

“An effective alternative to traditional regulation for a fast-moving industry. It enabled greater flexibility in getting more energy-efficient small network equipment into the market quickly.”

The Voluntary Agreement for Ongoing Improvement to the Energy Efficiency of Small Network Equipment is an industry initiative from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and the Internet and Television Association (NCTA) aimed at improving the efficiency of home internet devices such as modems and routers. First adopted in 2015, the voluntary agreement was extended in 2018 for another four years.

The voluntary agreement encourages increasing the energy efficiency of equipment used to access residential broadband internet services while promoting rapid innovation and timely introduction of new features for consumers. Signatories include the largest US internet service providers and many major manufacturers. The agreement covers internet modems, routers, Wi-Fi extenders, and other equipment delivering broadband service to more than 90% of the residential broadband market.

Each signatory commits to making sure that at least 90% of the home internet devices purchased or sold annually meet rigorous energy efficiency levels. The CTA and NCTA say that more rigorous second tier of energy efficiency levels will become applicable in 2020. Signatories also test the energy usage of all new equipment using an industry-standard test method and post the results for consumers. Independent auditor D+R International verifies the information and prepares a public annual report each year.

Federal appliance efficiency regulations cannot take effect until five years after adoption, but the voluntary agreement went into effect almost immediately. It allows companies to develop creative remediation plans to offset any energy usage associated with non-compliance, which is more beneficial to the public than a traditional penalty system of enforcement, the trade organizations say.

D+R’s latest independent report estimated that the agreement improved the overall efficiency of small network equipment by nearly 20% compared to typical previously deployed devices. When measured against average broadband speeds, D+R found a 17% annual improvement in the energy efficiency of access devices that integrate a broadband modem with additional functionality such as Wi-Fi routing or phone service, and a 23% improvement for local network equipment such as routers and network extenders.

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