Energy and performance to boost European telcos

AT&T, BT, Orange, Swisscom and Telefonica will improve their ability to win contracts for services like telepresence, cloud computing, smart meters and web hosting because they differentiate their services with superior energy and environmental performance.

This is the key finding from the most recent European sustainable telecoms sector benchmark conducted by independent analyst firm Verdantix. The study assesses Europe’s 18 largest telecoms operators across 50 criteria including a detailed assessment of network energy efficiency, carbon reduction
strategies and sustainability reporting.

“Our study found that telecoms operators who can’t communicate their own energy, environment and sustainability performance are now at a competitive disadvantage” commented Verdantix Director, David Metcalfe. “This is particularly true when bidding for public sector telecoms contracts. Bid teams now need training on how to respond to customers’ sustainability questions. An ability to communicate the PUE of data centres or the potential for air travel cost savings from the deployment of telepresence suites differentiates core telecoms services. Among the 18 telcos we looked at, Orange has invested ahead of the curve to create sustainability differentiators for its customers across a broad portfolio. BT stands out for its corporate sustainability performance.”

Interviews with 15 telecoms buyers representing multinational firms with average revenues of €12 billion uncovered a growing trend to include energy and environment benefits in the assessment of overall business benefits from telecoms services. These powerful buying constituencies use energy and environmental performance questions as part of supplier pre-qualification. Two global banks told Verdantix they require telcos to have ISO14001 certification as a pre-condition for spending money with them.

Buyers focus on the sustainability benefits delivered by video conferencing, telepresence, collaboration platforms and data centre related services including cloud computing.

In the European telecoms market, AT&T, BT, Orange, Swisscom and Telefonica lead their peer group on energy, environment and social metrics. These telecoms providers boast the broadest portfolio of services that target sustainability growth markets like electricity and gas smart metering. They have also invested more than their competitors to measure and communicate energy and CO2 benefits delivered to their customers. Swisscom’s Green-ICT-check tool enables customers to assess energy and CO2 savings across all services in a consistent way. AT&T, BT, Orange and Telefonica have appointed a Chief Sustainability Officer who reports at Board level and garners investment for the programme.

“There is a big market opportunity for the telecoms sector to act as a sustainability ‘enabler’ helping customers to reduce their energy consumption, fuel costs and CO2 emissions” commented Phil Sayer, Principal Analyst at Verdantix. “But customers still need more education to understand how to define sustainability benefits in financial terms. Right now there is a gaping disconnect between the ambitions of the telcos and the quality of their eco-marketing. Europe’s telcos need to work much harder to articulate how sustainability performance adds value to core telecoms services.”

The Verdantix report, Green Quadrant Sustainable Telecoms Europe 2011, compares 18 telecoms operators on 50 criteria and includes insights from interviews with a panel of 15 senior IT and telecoms buyers with combined revenues of over €175 billion. Firms included in the study are AT&T, Belgacom, BT, Cable&Wireless, Colt, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, KPN, SFR, Swisscom, Telecom Austria, Telekom Italia, Telecom Portugal, Telefonica, Telenor, TeliaSonera, Verizon and Vodafone.

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