by Cecil Scheib

This week, Whitson Gordon at lifehacker.com published an interesting article about troubleshooting router woes.

I actually really like Lifehacker!

While perhaps technically accurate from a narrow point of view, I had a bone to pick about the larger ecological context of his recommendation and dashed off the email below.
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Dear Mr. Whitson,

Thank you for the lively and informative article about router woes. I came across it while troubleshooting some router issues and found it helpful.

I do have a comment about one part of the article, when you are describing troubleshooting options for router connection issues:
“If your modem is a modem/router combo, you won’t be able to perform this [troubleshooting] step (we recommend having a separate modem and router for just this reason).”

As an energy geek, I’d like to point out that modem/router combos use about the same power than separate units (in fact, often less). Since these are 24/7 units, this recommendation effectively doubles the power requirement of a home connection.

With ~90,000,000 broadband subscribers and assuming an average 10W of power consumption per device, I get the following:

90,000,000 connections X 10W x 1MW/1,000,000W = 900MW.

So, the difference between everyone having a single device and everyone having separate devices is about two coal-fired power plants.

Adjust the figures as you like but my basic point is: let’s not build more power plants, let’s fix router stability. And until we do, please, manually reset our routers or find another solution. To increase our power consumption by hundreds of megawatts for the people that sometimes need to reset their routers is foolish in these days of expensive energy, limited grid capacity, and let’s face it, global warming.

Thanks for reading.

–Cecil

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Whitson, any reply?

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