What makes a carrier green?

By , Network World |  Green IT, telecom

AT&T essentially wins on innovation and also in terms of green network infrastructure. They have paid attention to how much energy is being consumed in their network infrastructure, have defined new metrics to measure carbon emissions, have implemented programs such as the reduction of dual-networks which saved them 207,549 metric tons of CO2 emissions. They are also actively involved in smart grid projects across the United States, especially with initiatives targeting last-mile connectivity and two-way communication. AT&T also is doing work through its research facility at Bell Labs related to technologies that could save energy in the network.

On the other hand, Sprint leads in areas like green handsets with their Samsung Reclaim; recycling initiatives where they expect to recycle 90% of phones that it has sold by 2017; putting together initiatives to drive their supplier value chain to adopt greener practices; green IT initiatives including retiring servers, improving cooling efficiency of data centers, and recycling of e-waste. Sprint also has a clear strategy around educating the consumer, primarily driven through their green site. [Other initiatives include] recycling 50% of its operational waste; having 90% of suppliers complying with environmental standards; and securing 10% of its energy from renewable resources. Overall, the company expects to reduce carbon emissions by 15% by 2017.

But while Sprint's green message is overarching and built around educating the customer, it fails to provide details on how those goals will be met. The company's green message seems to lack in terms of the details of how they will achieve those goals, and falls behind in some critical areas such as green network infrastructure, where AT&T seems to have a better handle.

What do other carriers, such as say Verizon or Rogers, have to do to catch up? Do they have any green IT investments of note?

The other carriers are way behind on most of the criteria measured and only have limited programs such as handset recycling which could be considered as green. Although Verizon has some CSR initiatives like green IT, it loses out in terms of the breadth and depth of its green initiatives, which seem limited compared to competitors like Sprint and AT&T. The majority of carriers do not have an idea or any initiatives around reducing the energy consumption of their mobile network.

Finally, what benefits, if any, are there for consumers and businesses of carriers investing in green technology?

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