While most carriers are reluctant even to set targets for reducing their carbon footprint, Australian ISP Internode has already been carbon-neutral for a year.
The company, which has over 170,000 subscribers Australia-wide, sources 100% of its electricity needs from renewable energy, and has molded its equipment upgrade purchasing decisions towards energy efficiency and sustainability.
The brainchild of the drive is owner Simon Hackett, a long-time environmental activist – just this month, he drove across Australia in the world's first fully electric sports car, to promote the adoption of electric charging facilities in petrol stations.
“[Hackett] looked at the really very large amount of power that Internode consumes across the world, and thought, 'there's something that could be done here',” Internode carrier relations manager John Lindsay said.
The company has also started to invest in its own renewable energy infrastructure, choosing to run a number of remote sites via solar cells. With operators forced to pay a premium for piping power to remote areas - and to provide expensive, long-lasting battery backups - it is becoming cost-competitive to run these sites on solar, Lindsay said.
The company has also spent around A$500,000 (€297, 000) on a Cisco telepresence system, to connect Internode's head office in Adelaide with the national business hubs of Sydney and Melbourne.
The positive publicity benefits of the decision likely outweigh any extra financial burden, he added.
Although several factors - such as Internode's size and status as a privately-owned company – helped the transition towards carbon-neutral status, the option was open to the entire industry, Lindsay said.
“Any telecom company can do what we've done,” Lindsay said. “It's not as big a challenge as it looks. It comes down to the fundamental question – do the shareholders of the business care more about the dividend this year, or about the long-term impact of people on the planet?”
Separately, Australian incumbent Telstra has announced that it aims to reduce carbon emission intensity by at least 10% by 2015.
The carrier revealed that during 2008/09 it was responsible for emitting 1.52 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, or 64 tonnes per million dollars of domestic revenue.
The target requires Telstra to reduce this to at least 58 tonnes per million dollars of domestic revenue by 2015. It aims to cut intensity by at least 10 % and up to 15%.
To do this the operator said it would invest in energy efficient projects and accommodation, decommission redundant network assets, reduce the energy intensity of purchased products and services and adopt low carbon ICT solutions such as video-conferencing.