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AT&T, Sprint Lead US Telecoms in Sustainability

AT&T leads the U.S. telecoms market in sustainable customer offerings and Sprint in corporate sustainability performance, according to a new study from analyst firm Verdantix.

The report, Green Quadrant Sustainable Telecoms (US) 2012, analyzes the offerings and corporate sustainability performances of the twelve largest telecoms service providers in the US. The study’s conclusions are also based on interviews with buyers of telecoms services representing firms with revenues of over $316 billion.

“In the US market, AT&T and Sprint have achieved market leadership on the increasingly prominent issue of sustainability performance,” stated Phil Sayers, Principal Analyst at Verdantix. “Smaller operators like CenturyLink, Level 3, Earthlink and Windstream have not invested as much as their larger competitors. These providers score poorly on corporate sustainability and service capability due to limited portfolios of sustainable telecoms solutions, embryonic corporate sustainability programs and minimal sustainability product marketing. They must develop their service portfolios and ramp up nascent corporate sustainability strategies if they hope to catch up with other US and European telecoms operators.”

BT, Orange and Verizon are also in the Leaders’ Quadrant of the study because they have broad portfolios, active marketing, robust organizational commitments to sustainability, transparent reporting of carbon emissions and ambitious long-term carbon reduction targets, as well as international recognition of corporate sustainability achievements.

Assessed in their home markets, the European telecoms operators scored higher than their US counterparts, reflecting the fact that sustainability investments tend to flow out over a period of years from the headquarters country.

Eleven categories of telecoms solutions linked to energy and environment are covered in the report as part of sustainable telecoms: video collaboration, web/online collaboration, sustainable hosting, cloud computing, sustainability consulting, smart meters and other remote monitoring (M2M) solutions, intelligent building solutions, fleet telematics, telecommuting, sustainable equipment and handsets and sustainable vertical market solutions.

Despite the strong performance from AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, these firms have not yet put sustainability central to their business strategy and product marketing in the way that European telcos have started to do. This may be because they do not think US telecoms buyers are as sustainability-aware as their European counterparts. However, the tide is changing. Depending on the category of telecoms solution, between 13 percent and 35 percent of panel respondents consider sustainability to be the primary purchase driver ahead of cost savings, efficiency, productivity and brand enhancement. 

“The US telecoms sector needs to get a better grip on the energy and environmental challenges facing their future growth plans” commented Verdantix Senior Manager, Janet Lin. “Telcos face a carbon emissions boom from the exponential growth in bandwidth required by smart phones and their investments in cloud computing. Without a strong energy efficiency and CO2 reduction plan, telecoms providers will face the wrath of Greenpeace and other campaign-based environmental NGOs. The divergent reputations of Google and Facebook on environmental management should act as a warning to lagging US telcos.”

Earlier this month, Sprint Nextel was named the best carrier in the industry for their phone buyback program by Compass Intelligence Research.

Bart King is a PR/marketing communications consultant and principal at Cleantech Communications. 

Bart King is the principal of New Growth Communications, a network of affiliated content producers and strategists serving clients in the emerging green economy. He is also Associate Editor of Sponsored Content for Sustainable Brands. Follow him @bart_king [Read more about Bart King]

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