New adventures in green tech

Robert Clark
Wireless Asia

In January, Alcatel-Lucent launched a new green telecom initiative aimed at making the world's communications networks at least 1,000 times more energy efficient.

"A thousand-fold reduction is roughly equivalent to being able to power the world's communications networks, including the internet, for three years using the same amount of energy that it currently takes to run them for a single day," the company said when announcing the program.

The new body, Green Touch, has the backing of several European governments and participation from carriers such as AT&T and China Mobile, and research institutes like MIT and CEA-LETI. Alcatel-Lucent said it issued an open invitation to all ICT players to join the initiative.

But apart from AlcaLu's Bell Labs, Samsung and Freescale are the only chip or network vendors to sign up. Key players such as Intel, TI, Cisco and other comms network suppliers remain on the sidelines.

AlcaLu said the 1000-fold target was based on research from Bell Labs legend Claude Shannon that looks at the theoretical minimum energy consumption needed to provide current levels of network functionality and throughput. Current research suggests that today's ICT networks had the potential to be 10,000 times more efficient then they are today. (Bell Labs head of research Gee Rittenhouse told the press conference that energy consumption could be reduced by a factor of a million if you excluded wireless technology).

The Green Touch initiative aims to deliver within five years a reference network architecture and demonstrations of the key components required to realize this improvement.

However, that may not translate to actual products for years afterwards, despite AlcaLu's optimism that the energy savings will encourage rapid adoption, according to Ovum analyst Jeremy Green.

"While we applaud the sentiment, we can't help thinking that this is a little naïve," Green said in a research note. "Standardization processes could delay implementation of unquestionably useful technologies for years. If the consortium does not bring competing vendors inside the tent then this issue will be exacerbated because each will try to drive standards towards their own intellectual property assets."

Back to: Hard Target



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