Telecommunication Services

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Telecommunication Services industry entities provide a range of services from wireless and wireline telecommunications to cable and satellite services. The wireless services segment provides direct communication through radio-based cellular networks and operates and maintains the associated switching and transmission facilities. The wireline segment provides local and long-distance voice communication via the Public Switched Telephone Network. Wireline carriers also offer voice over internet protocol (VoIP) telephone, television and broadband internet services over an expanding network of fibre optic cables. Cable providers distribute television programming from cable networks to subscribers. They typically also provide consumers with video services, high-speed internet service and VoIP. Traditionally, these services are bundled into packages that charge subscribers a single payment. Satellite entities distribute TV programming through broadcasting satellites orbiting the earth or through ground stations. Entities serve customers primarily in their domestic markets, although some entities operate in more than one country.

Relevant Issues (6 of 26)

Why are some issues greyed out? The SASB Standards vary by industry based on the different sustainability-related risks and opportunities within an industry. The issues in grey were not identified during the standard-setting process as the most likely to be useful to investors, so they are not included in the Standard. Over time, as the ISSB continues to receive market feedback, some issues may be added or removed from the Standard. Each company determines which sustainability-related risks and opportunities are relevant to its business. The Standard is designed for the typical company in an industry, but individual companies may choose to report on different sustainability-related risks and opportunities based on their unique business model.

Disclosure Topics

What is the relationship between General Issue Category and Disclosure Topics? The General Issue Category is an industry-agnostic version of the Disclosure Topics that appear in each SASB Standard. Disclosure topics represent the industry-specific impacts of General Issue Categories. The industry-specific Disclosure Topics ensure each SASB Standard is tailored to the industry, while the General Issue Categories enable comparability across industries. For example, Health & Nutrition is a disclosure topic in the Non-Alcoholic Beverages industry, representing an industry-specific measure of the general issue of Customer Welfare. The issue of Customer Welfare, however, manifests as the Counterfeit Drugs disclosure topic in the Biotechnology & Pharmaceuticals industry.
General Issue Category
(Industry agnostic)

Disclosure Topics (Industry specific) for: Telecommunication Services

Energy Management
  • Environmental Footprint of Operations

    Individual Telecommunication Services entities consume substantial amounts of energy. Depending on the source of energy and generation efficiency, electricity consumption by telecom network infrastructure can contribute significantly to environmental externalities, such as climate change, creating sustainability risks for the industry. Although network equipment and data centres are becoming more energy efficient, their overall energy consumption is increasing with the expansion in telecommunications infrastructure and data traffic. How Telecommunication Services entities manage their overall energy efficiency or intensity, reliance on different types of energy, and how they access alternative sources of energy may become increasingly material as the global regulatory focus on climate change increases, creating incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energy as well as pricing of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Because energy expenditures may be significant in the industry, entities that improve operational energy efficiency may increase cost savings and profit margins.
Customer Privacy
  • Data Privacy

    As customers increasingly pay attention to privacy issues associated with cell phone, internet and email services, Telecommunication Services entities must implement strong management practices and guidelines related to their use of customer data. Telecommunication Services entities use growing volumes of customer location, web browsing and demographic data to improve their services as well as generate revenue by selling such data to third parties. Growing public concern about privacy may result in increased regulatory scrutiny over the use, collection and sale of consumer data. These trends increase the importance of Telecommunication Services entities adopting and communicating policies about providing customer data to third parties transparently, including the amount and type of data provided and the nature of its use (for example, use for commercial purposes). Additionally, Telecommunication Services entities receive, and must determine whether to comply with, government requests for customer information. Entities in the industry that fail to manage data privacy may be susceptible to decreased revenues because of lost consumer confidence and churn, as well as to financial effects stemming from legal exposures.
Data Security
  • Data Security

    The Telecommunication Services industry is particularly vulnerable to data security threats because entities manage an increasing volume of customer data, including personally identifiable information, as well as demographic, behavioural and location data. Inadequate prevention, detection and remediation of data security threats may influence customer acquisition and retention and result in decreased market share and lower demand for the entity’s products. In addition to reputational damage and increased customer turnover, data breaches also may result in increased expenses, commonly associated with remediation efforts such as identity protection offerings and employee training on data protection. As the providers of critical infrastructure, the ability of entities to combat cyber-attacks may affect reputation and brand value, with a long-term effect on market share and revenue growth potential. Therefore, entities that identify and manage data security risks in a timely manner may be in a better position to protect market share and brand value while also reducing risk exposure to cyber-attacks. Additionally, new and emerging data security standards and regulations may affect the operating expenses of entities through increased costs of compliance.
Materials Sourcing & Efficiency
  • Product End-of-life Management

    Because of the rapid obsolescence of communications devices, particularly mobile phones, they represent an increasing proportion of electronic waste (e-waste) going to landfills, driven in part by a low recycling rate. Telecommunication Services entities face growing regulatory risks related to this issue. Numerous jurisdictions have implemented e-waste recycling laws mandating that electronics retailers and manufacturers create a system for recycling, reuse or proper disposal of electronic devices. Although in their early days many of these laws covered a limited scope of products, recent laws extend to mobile devices, requiring entities to finance the collection, treatment, recycling or proper disposal of e-waste, as concerns around e-waste from communications devices increase. E-waste laws often require vendors or manufacturers to pay for waste recycling or product take-back and recycling programmes. Penalties or costs, because of such laws, together with potential revenues generated from refurbishing and re-selling products, increasingly are providing incentives for entities in the industry to manage end-of-life impacts. Many Telecommunication Services entities work in partnership with phone manufacturers to bundle telecom services and mobile devices, and therefore have a shared responsibility for end-of-life management of such devices. Their relationship with customers provides an opportunity for effective management of product recycling, reuse and disposal. Establishing take-back programmes to recover end-of-life materials for further reuse, recycling or remanufacturing may increase cost savings and develop a more resilient supply of manufacturing materials.
Competitive Behaviour
  • Competitive Behaviour & Open Internet

    The Telecommunication Services industry contains classic examples of natural monopolies, where high capital costs allow them to offer the most efficient production. Given the concentrated nature of telecommunications, cable and satellite entities, they must manage their growth strategies within the parameters of a regulatory landscape designed to ensure competition. In addition to natural monopoly, many entities in this industry benefit from terminal access monopolies over the so-called ‘last-mile’ of their networks, given their contractual relationship with each subscriber and the barriers for subscribers to change service providers. The nature of this relationship is the basis of much of the discussion regarding an open internet, where all data on the internet is treated equally in terms of performance and access. The industry faces legislative and regulatory actions to ensure competition, which may limit the market share and growth potential of some larger players. Merger and acquisition activity by dominant market players has come under regulatory scrutiny. This has resulted in entities abandoning plans to consolidate, affecting their value. Strong reliance on market dominance also may be a source of risk if entities are vulnerable to legal challenges, increasing their risk profile and cost of capital.
Systemic Risk Management
  • Managing Systemic Risks from Technology Disruptions

    Given the systemic importance of telecommunications networks, systemic or economy-wide disruption may result if the Telecommunication Services network infrastructure is unreliable and prone to business continuity risks. As the frequency of extreme weather events associated with climate change increases, Telecommunication Services entities may face growing physical threats to network infrastructure, with potentially significant social or systemic impacts. In the absence of resilient and reliable infrastructure, entities may lose revenue associated with service disruptions or face unplanned capital expenditures to repair damaged or compromised equipment. Entities that successfully manage business continuity risks, including identifying critical business operations, and that enhance resilience of the system may substantially reduce their risk exposure and decrease their cost of capital. While implementation of such measures may have upfront costs, entities may gain long-term benefits in terms of lower remediation expenses in cases of high-impact disruptions.

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