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Sustainable mobile communications - What you should consider

The telecommunications sector faces significant sustainability challenges, particularly due to the high energy consumption of its infrastructure. Mobile towers, base stations, and data centers require a constant energy supply, which primarily relies on fossil fuels and results in greenhouse gas emissions. As data traffic, as well as the number of users and devices, continues to increase, the energy demand in the telecommunications sector is steadily growing.

Have you ever wondered how sustainable your mobile phone provider can actually be? In this article, you will find out what you should look out for in order to contribute to a more sustainable mobile network. In this article, we'll explore the world of sustainable mobile phone providers and show you why it's worth considering green mobile phone contracts.

In a nutshell

  • No established sustainability standards like those in energy and banking
  • Providers shall opt for green electricity and strive for CO2 neutrality
  • Data protection, fairness, and transparency in the service offering are important factors
  • A recognized corporate culture (B-Corp, community-oriented, purpose-driven) can already provide quick information about social and environmental commitment

Quality criteria of your sustainable mobile phone provider

You are probably right to ask yourself how the sustainability of mobile phone providers can be assessed at all as the topic of sustainability in telecommunications has long been overlooked. Unlike in energy or banking, there is no non-governmental organization in mobile communications that has already carried out independent research and established standards to be adhered to on the market. Instead, there are a few exciting companies that are changing the market from within and are therefore creating new standards. So that a standard emerges from a niche market.

Which criteria make a mobile phone tariff sustainable?

Here are the most important factors and cornerstones for sustainable mobile communications that we have curated.

🌍 Environmental sustainability

Mobile surfing and telephony mean that a dense infrastructure of radio masts and data centers is operated, which requires a considerable amount of electricity. The largest energy consumption in telecommunications, about 60%, comes from network operation, presenting significant potential for the use of green energy — a potential that has yet to be seized by any of the major providers. A considerable amount of resources are also used in the business activities themselves and in the marketing of end devices.

Holistic environmental management

Sustainable mobile communications providers implement comprehensive environmental management systems to control, reduce and, if necessary, offset their direct (Scope 1 and 2) and indirect (supply chains, Scope 3) emissions.

Genuine green electricity

You can recognize the purchase of 100% green electricity (more on this here) by the energy supplier's details. In addition to partnerships with such green energy providers, an extraordinary commitment to the expansion of renewable energies can also be shown.

Conservation of resources

In addition to energy-efficient technologies, this means avoiding or using particularly environmentally friendly materials for SIM cards and end devices, for example. Regarding the latter: The ideal situation would of course be for smartphones to be offered second-hand or as B-goods. Otherwise, care can be taken to ensure that smartphones are easy to repair (such as the Fairphone).

Green supply chains

Sustainable mobile phone providers make sure that their suppliers also implement the most environmentally friendly practices possible. As in many other industries, supply chains are crucial for environmental impact and should be controlled by a holistic environmental management system.

🤝 Social sustainability

Green mobile phone providers do not limit themselves to environmental aspects but also integrate social sustainability into their business practices. Here are some criteria:

Social commitment

Companies are committed to social projects either administratively or monetarily. Some providers offer donation options as additional funds, others want to equalize access to their tariffs for weaker income groups. They help to combat social injustice and improve people's lives.

Ethics in the world of finance

Sustainable mobile phone providers value ethical finance. This means that they keep their money in ethical bank accounts that promote sustainable development and avoid controversial business areas. See what you should look out for in sustainable banks [link].

Healthy workplace

A sustainable mobile phone provider is committed to the well-being of its employees. This is reflected in fair working conditions, a pleasant working environment and measures to promote health and well-being.

🚀 Holistic & future-oriented corporate culture

Both environmental and social sustainability can be anchored in corporate policy through recognized forms of operation and improved in a targeted manner. Therefore, pay attention to stakeholder participation and measurable KPIs for social and environmental impact. Three forms of operation here are, for example, the B-Corp, common good balance sheet and purpose.

Both environmental and social sustainability can be anchored in corporate policy through recognized forms of operation and improved in a targeted manner. Therefore, pay attention to stakeholder participation and measurable KPIs for social and environmental impact. Three forms of operation here are, for example, the B-Corp, common good balance sheet, and purpose.

🔒 Data privacy & security

A responsible provider prioritizes the security of your personal data and privacy and therefore discloses its practices.

Purpose and duration of data storage

Sustainable mobile phone providers only store your data for as long as is necessary for the agreed purpose. They respect your privacy and protect your data from unauthorized third parties.

Anonymization of personal data

Sustainable mobile service providers work according to the principle of minimal data collection and minimal use of personal data to keep individuals as anonymized as possible. In addition to the generally applicable GDPR, for example, data is stored separately, cookies are used anonymously and communications with customers are encrypted. This ensures that your data is protected and your privacy is preserved.

🔍 Fairness & transparency

Sustainable mobile phone providers are also characterized by the transparency and fairness of their service offerings. Here are some criteria:

Simple tariff structures

Providers offer clear and understandable tariff structures, with no hidden fees or unexplained costs.


They are transparent about their business practices and disclose how they deal with environmental impact, social commitment, and data protection.

How can I ensure that a sustainable mobile phone tariff is actually environmentally friendly?

To make sure you really choose an environmentally friendly mobile phone tariff, you should: