What makes a carrier green?

By , Network World |  Green IT, telecom

ABI Research today released its rankings for "green" telecom carriers, rating major North American carriers based on how much they've invested in energy-saving IT technologies, internal telework initiatives and even recyclable mobile phones. ABI analyst Aditya Kaul spoke with Network World Senior Writer Brad Reed and discussed the metrics ABI used to create its ratings, which carriers fared best in the study and the benefits of green IT to consumers and businesses.

Top 12 green IT vendors

What is it that makes a carrier green?

We have listed a number of requirements for an operator to be green. This looks at both corporate social responsibility (CSR) green initiatives and green network infrastructure initiatives. As for CSR, we look at green vehicle fleets, green IT, green handsets, recycling, etc. As for network infrastructure, we look at things like use of alternative energy sources at cell sites, using innovative technologies to reduce energy consumption at cell sites, as well as how involved they are with their value chain to drive environmental standards and materials to be used; their openness to declare their carbon footprint and measure it; research and innovation budget dedicated to green networks or ecological initiatives; and so forth.

What sorts of technological investments does ABI rate as "green investments?" Particularly, what do you define as green network infrastructure?

We look at green from the telecom perspective across handsets, recycling Wi-Fi, network infrastructure and basically the complete value chain. Green to us means technologies that are used to reduce the impact of climate change. But more importantly, it turns out that green also means dollar savings for operators. For example, reduction in energy consumption at a cell site accounts for a reduction in operating expenses.

Green network infrastructure essentially means using technologies or methods to reduce energy consumption. The use of innovative technologies in base stations like lower power amplifiers, remote radio heads are good examples of green technologies; the use of alternative fuels for off-grid and on-grid site; use of green core network equipment such as super switches which aggregate switches into one unit saving energy; initiatives to reduce cell site power consumption including auxiliary site equipment. We also evaluate the amount of carbon reduction reported due to green mobile infrastructure initiatives.

The study says both AT&T and Sprint have distinguished themselves well as far as green investments go. Can you name some specific big-ticket investments they've made and how they’re projected to save them energy?

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