European telecoms operators are happy to tout their green agendas, but are failing to offer a wide enough range of sustainable products, practices and services, according to a recent report by analyst firm Verdantix.
The company's Green Quadrant: Sustainable Telecoms Europe report highlights the internal sustainability strategies of telecoms giants from around the world, including AT &T, BT, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, TeliaSonera, Verizon and Vodafone.
"Among Europe's leading operators only Orange stands out as a firm that has made deep and broad commitments to launch innovative sustainability offerings for their customers," said David Metcalfe, director of Verdantix.
"BT and Deutsche Telekom have impressive sustainability programmes for their internal operations addressing issues like energy efficiency, fleet fuel consumption and carbon reductions. But there is little evidence that Europe's telcos as a whole make meaningful contributions to their customers' sustainability goals."
Although Verdantix believes that Orange is currently the only provider to showcase real board-level commitment to green investments, the report said that BT, Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica and Vodafone could all play a leadership role in 2010 thanks largely to in-house initiatives on datacentre energy efficiency, carbon reductions and fleet fuel efficiency.
The remainder have a long way to go, both in terms of internal sustainability programmes and customer-facing offerings, the research said.
"Telecoms operators have made a huge miscalculation about the issues that interest their customers with respect to sustainability programmes," explained Metcalfe.
"What interests customers is a broad range of innovative sustainability solutions that help them to reduce their energy costs, cut emissions from air travel and migrate to low carbon operations.
"Customers are not really interested in the detail of telcos' own CO2 reduction plans, the completeness of corporate social responsibility reporting, charity sponsorships and the introduction of fuel efficient fleets."
The Verdantix report goes on to highlight the importance of sustainable datacentre initiatives and video collaboration, as well as the need to add sustainability features to existing systems over the course of the next two years, in areas such as virtualisation and smart metering.
The report concludes that no single operator has yet developed a brand leadership on sustainability, leaving the market open for telcos to add recognition to their brand by pushing the green agenda.
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