Several industry heavyweights, including AT&T and China Mobile, have joined an environmental initiative organized by Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs. The initiative, called Green Touch, aims to create technologies needed to make communications networks 1,000 times more energy efficient than they are today.

Aside from AT&T and China Mobile, Portugal Telecom and Telefonica also joined the effort. Several academic research labs, government and nonprofit research organizations, and industrial labs are also part of the initiative, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology, the French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control, and Freescale Semiconductor.

“Truly global challenges have always been best addressed by bringing together the brightest minds in an unconstrained, creative environment. This was what we used when putting a man on the moon and is the same approach we need to implement to address the global climate crisis,” said Steven Chu, U.S. Secretary of Energy. “The Green Touch initiative is an example of such a response – bringing together scientists and technologists from around the world and from many different disciplines in an environment of open innovation to attack the problem from many different directions.”

The initiative’s 1,000-fold efficiency target is based on research from Bell Labs that determined that today’s information and communication technology (ICT) networks have the potential to be 10,000 times more efficient then they are today.  This conclusion comes from a Bell Labs analysis of the fundamental properties of ICT networks and technologies (optical, wireless, electronics, processing, routing and architecture) and from studying their physical limits by applying established formulas such as Shannon’s Law.

The Green Touch initiative will deliver a reference network architecture and demonstrations of the key components required to realize this improvement by 2015.

The first meeting of the consortium will take place in February and will be dedicated to establishing the organization’s five-year plan, first-year deliverables, and member roles and responsibilities.

Companies interested in joining the consortium are encouraged to visit the Green Touch initiative’s Web site.

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