Alcatel-Lucent has taken the moral and intellectual high ground in launching an initiative aimed at reducing the energy consumption of networks by a factor of a thousand – eventually.
Alcatel-Lucent announced its Green Touch consortium with much fanfare at a press conference in London. From the first few minutes it was clear that this was a heavyweight affair, delivered in the presence of both senior managers and top-level scientific researchers.
Unlike comparable announcements from competing vendors, this was not about a new green product or service. There were few specific promises, and no cheerful case studies showing how the vendor had helped its operator customers to reduce their energy consumption.
Rather, Alcatel-Lucent aims to establish a consortium that will manage a research program to deliver a radically new set of technologies on which to base communications networking.
The announcement was lent dignity by an explicit link to the theoretical work of Claude Shannon, giving Alcatel-Lucent the opportunity to remind us that it is the inheritor of the Bell Labs mantle. Shannon’s work underlies the initial research for Green Touch, in which a group of engineers and fundamental scientists within Alcatel-Lucent established the theoretical minimum energy consumption needed to provide current levels of network functionality and throughput.
In fact, Green Touch’s plan to improve energy consumption by a factor of a thousand marks it out, in its own terms, as an underachiever. The theoretical models suggest that a 10,000-fold improvement is possible, and Bell Labs head of research Gee Rittenhouse told the press conference that without the need to support wireless, energy consumption could reduce by a factor of a million.