Green tech and rural comms the next battlegrounds for telecoms

15 Sep 2010

PARIS – One of the most important powerbrokers in the global telecoms industry Alcatel-Lucent CEO Ben Verwaayen said he believes the next major battlegrounds in the telecoms industry will centre on green tech, sustainability and spreading broadband to rural areas.

Speaking exclusively with Siliconrepublic this morning, Verwaayen said that the telecoms industry needs to join forces and create an industry viewpoint on global issues, namely climate change, green efficiency, sustainability and the digital economy as an economic imperative.

“This is a worldwide issue and it needs an industry viewpoint,” he said.

“Firstly we need to realise that the world is going to IP (internet protocol), the world will be IP-based end to end.

“Secondly, the balance of power is shifting to the consumer in a rapid way.

“Thirdly, rural is the next battleground for the telecoms industry because telecoms infrastructure is a vital part of a nation’s competitiveness.”

Dutch-born Verwaayen is the former CEO of BT and is credited with gelling the merger of Alcatel and Lucent. A lifelong member of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy he has been made Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau, an Honorary Knight of the British Empire and Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur in France.

Alcatel-Lucent is a key player in the Green Touch initiative aimed at reducing the power consumed by telecoms equipment. As the world becomes more IP based and as more people from the developing worlds join the internet and mobile world, the need to reduce power consumption is critical, says Verwaayen.

“Bell labs in Ireland is focusing on green and we are expanding our activities there. Why is this important? First off, there are a couple of billion people who never had a phone line but who will join us in a worldwide connected base.

“The energy consumption these billions will add to energy bill … we just can’t afford that. The cost of energy has to be reduced.

“Secondly, economies will be asking themselves what will they be investing in first, the newest communications or the latest energy solutions. Think again.

“Turn it around; if you have self-contained abilities to communicate, you will lift whole communities and energy will follow – information, negotiations and communications will pave the way.

“Green is good for your pocket, good for the environment and it is necessary to go rural,” Verwaayen said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years