Kudos to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for its work in developing methodologies to examine the environmental impacts and the benefits of IT communications (ICT).
The ITU is developing tools to calculate energy usage and carbon impact arising from ICT lifecycles and to examine the decrease in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that can be achieved with ICTs. Examples of the latter include substituting ICT services and devices for intensive fossil-fueled activities for travel and transport and by replacing atoms with bits (buying an MP3 file instead of a CD), also known as 'dematerialization'.
The organization also noted a trend towards 'always-on' devices that are a drain on power supplies. On the other hand a contribution to its focus group meeting showed that direct e-mail has the effect of a 98.5 per cent carbon dioxide emission reduction compared with paper.
"A common methodology will help establish the business case to go green and can ultimately be beneficial to informed consumer choices and climate-friendly business procurement," say Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU's Telecommunication Standardization Bureau.
Now what's needed is for the ITU or another similar august body to tackle a real interesting and probably the next green issue: wired versus wireless, both in the actual energy to push X amount of data (including voice) from A to B, and in construction and lifecycle construction and maintenance impacts.
Answers to this matter can help decisionmakers, and green-and-energy-conscious businesses and individuals to make the right choices.
As Tesla discovered, air is a lousy conductor of electricity, not to mention the safety concerns. Energy is required to push ultra low-voltage signals through the medium. Copper and fiber via landlines are much more efficient. Yet wireless networks require less infrastructure which demands energy to build and maintain.
To their credit, suppliers have taking steps to cut the energy required for wireless transmission. For example Nortel has released its Smart Power Management Software that helps reduce radio network power consumption in GSM networks and delivers significant energy and cost-savings for mobile operators. It enables network operators to switch off radio network equipment dynamically when there is no caller traffic being processed by the system. This can provide up to a 33 percent energy reduction by cutting base transceiver station power consumption.
This feature, combined with other enhancements made to Nortel's GSM technology, makes Nortel's GSM portfolio up to 50 percent more energy efficient than it was five years ago says the firm.
Let's hear the arguments, and let me know of these and other solutions.