IP Phones Destroying Planet Earth

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IP Phones Destroying Planet Earth

According to a news release I received, IP phones sold in 2008 will create 47 million kg of waste thus destroying Planet Earth, causing global warming and causing the beginning of the End Times. What I mean is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath-of-God type stuff. Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies. Rivers and seas boiling. Forty years of darkness. Earthquakes, volcanoes… The dead rising from the grave. Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together - mass hysteria!

Ok, maybe not. (That's a Ghostbuster movie reference in case you missed it.) But according to OnRelay, a UK telecommunications software company, why kill the planet by purchasing desktop IP phones when you can use Fixed Mobile Convergence technologies to leverage mobile phones instead?

There's a big problem with this argument. First off, you assume employees are going to be willing to use their personal mobile phone in the office. Sure, sales personnel will be given corporate mobile phones, but do you really think the CFO is going to authorize call center agents, marketing personnel, the accounting department, etc. to each get their own personal mobile phone? I don't think so. The expense of giving a mobile phone PLUS a mobile phone voice plan to these individuals is cost prohibitive when you consider they don't necessarily need mobile connectivity. Granted, the idea makes sense for sales personnel though, but mobile phones still aren't more "green" than IP phones.

Secondly, mobile phones typically last 1-3 years before they are replaced because they are obsolete or they break. Desktop phones (including IP phones) last 5-15 years or more. Thus, the TCO of a desktop phone is much better than a mobile phone. Not to mention when people throw away their mobile phones they are also throwing away a lithium-ion battery and other electronic components in their mobile phones that aren't exactly great for the environment. In the time it takes for a company to throw away 1 desktop phone (15 years), if they were to switch to mobile phones I estimate they'd throw away 5X as many mobile phones in the same amount of time (new mobile phone every 3 years).

Anyway, still fascinating to see their analysis in their news release. Check it out after the jump...
IP Desk Phones Sold in 2008 to Create 47million kg of E-Waste

The 25 million Landline Desk Phones Projected to be Purchased by Companies in 2008 will Gather Dust and Become e-waste. Fixed Mobile Convergence Technologies offer an Alternative

Mobile World Congress 2008, Barcelona - 11th February 2008 OnRelay, a UK telecommunications software company, today issued a wake up call for European businesses to reconsider their investment in redundant IP telephony hardware like desk phones.

Calculating the real cost and waste implications of IP telephony, Marie Wold, President and CFO of OnRelay, notes, "We do business in an increasingly mobile environment - 50 to 70% of enterprise voice minutes are already mobile. Landline office phones are simply a waste. High performance mobile networks exist in every corner of the world, and the cost to use mobile phones is dropping dramatically. Using public mobile networks is becoming far more efficient than building and maintaining a private phone network inside a company."

Regardless, 22 million IP desk phones were still sold in 2007, according to research by In-Stat Market Research. There are now Fixed Mobile Convergence technologies available that enable enterprises to seamlessly use mobiles as office phones, without replacing their back-office phone servers.

Citing an example, Wold continues, "An enterprise deployment of 10,000 IP extensions includes a large hidden cost of LAN switches, routers, cabling and power supplies required to support the IP voice traffic. Of the staggering EUR10.9 ($15.8M) total cost of the IP telephony deployment, 80% is related to the desk phones and corresponding LAN upgrades." Wold asserts that most, if not all, employees can manage their office communications equally well or better with just their mobiles, thereby dramatically reducing the cost of the IP telephony implementation.

The e-waste equivalent for this unnecessary infrastructure is astounding. Organisations globally will ultimately be held accountable for the following amount of waste from their 2008 IP telephony investments:

- 47 million kg of solid waste - the weight of a WWII battleship
- 1.5M km of cabling - enough cable to stretch to the moon and back

Add to this the millions of cubic metres of packaging, tons of plastic, PVC, lead, Bromine-based flame retardant, Beryllium, Cadmium, Chromium and Mercury.

"Electronic waste is of concern largely due to the toxicity and carcinogenicity of some of the substances if processed improperly. Toxic substances in electronic waste may include lead, mercury and cadmium. Carcinogenic substances in electronic waste may include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Up to thirty-eight separate chemical elements are incorporated into electronic waste items. By not buying deskphones, European businesses would thereby reduce the amount of toxic substances that this waste releases into the environment," Wold continues.

Having promoted its MBX product as an IP desk phone replacement for years, OnRelay has increasingly become aware of the potential positive environmental impact of its MBX technology. "Admittedly we did not plan or invent our MBX product as a green technology from the outset. However, when building business cases and ROI models for our customers, the amount of unnecessary waste resulting from large IP telephony deployments became readily apparent. As the telecom industry is becoming more aware of issues such as e-waste and carbon footprint we are very pleased that our technology can help enterprises take a step in the right direction," Wold concludes.

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