Photos & Recap: Green Broadband 2010
But everyone knows the first step on the road to recovery is admitting you have a problem.
"ICT [information and communications technology], the whole information technology industry, is a large part of the problem -- 2 percent is our contribution to greenhouse gases," confessed Peter Hayden, director of sustainable power services, network, and systems integration for Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU). "Status quo will leave us at the same place or actually growing."
Light Reading Mobile was there to document step 1 of telecom's recovery process. Click the image below to launch a slideshow that recaps the day's events:
Today, 37 percent of network operators have some part of both a business plan and a strategy and implementation plan in place for green initiatives, according to a recent Heavy Reading survey. The larger Tier 1 operators are more likely to have both. That's nothing to balk at, considering how low the number was four years ago, Ludwig Graff, director of corporate network & technology at Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), told attendees. (See Comcast God Box Also a Green Box, Data Centers Work Hard to Be Cool, Sprint: WiMax Is Greenest Network Yet, and Sprint Nextel's Green Philosophy.)
That does, however, leave 63 percent of the market that's still mulling strategies.
Half of the respondents saw themselves as only on par or behind their competitors in terms of green strategies, but for 43 percent that means they've started their initiatives in some way. Another 30 percent said they plan to do so within the next two years.
Figuring out the funding
The holdup for many of these operators is the funding model. Nearly half said they don't have a clear understanding of how they will pay for their network transformation, and that's because they don't know what level of opex reduction to expect. Half of the respondents anticipated no reduction to up to 20 percent savings, while the other half simply didn't know. (See Does Green Telecom Make Cents? and Searching for the Green Network ROI.)
"Overall, I think it's showing that the operators don’t see there's a huge opex opportunity despite what's sometimes published in the industry about how there's a real opportunity for the telco," said Heavy Reading analyst Jim Hodges.
But even without a clear ROI, operators are pursuing green because they have to. End consumers like their service provider to employ a green roadmap, and 70 percent of operators felt that the ability to achieve market differentiation was an important enough reason to go green, even if it didn’t bring in extra revenue. That's a theme that resonates throughout the industry no matter the geography or regulatory environment, Hodges said.
The key for these service providers will be to develop a strong business plan and stay away from ad hoc approaches, a common strategy among 22 percent of respondents. Going green will be a slow process, but operators will figure out the business case and define the revenue opportunities, Hodges said.
"There really is a message here that large telcos are moving ahead, they have scale and a business case they can justify," he said. Next year and into 2012 is when operator-driven green initiatives are expected to reach critical mass.
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile