With the unbridled growth of information and communication technology (ICT) threatening to boost power consumption to unsustainable levels, an industry consortium organized by Bell Labs is aiming to make ICT networks 1,000 times more energy efficient.
Composed of companies and research labs from all over the world, the effort -- dubbed Green Touch -- is scheduled to hold its first meeting next month as it launches a five-year plan to revolutionize the way networks are built. Tens of millions of dollars will be spent on the effort, according to Bell Labs' parent company Alcatel-Lucent.
"Over the next decade billions more people will upload and share video, images, and information over public and private networks," said Gee Rittenhouse, VP of research at Bell Labs and consortium lead, in a statement. "This naturally leads to an exponential growth in ICT energy consumption which we, as an industry, have to jointly address."
Bell Labs has carried out research that indicates the ICT networks of today have the potential to be 10,000 times more efficient. According to the Alcatel-Lucent announcement, Bell Labs reached the conclusion that ICT networks' power consumption can be dramatically reduced after they analyzed fundamental properties of ICT networks and technologies covering optical, wireless, electronics, processing, routing, and architecture fields.
That work was then applied to some established formulas including Claude Shannon's Law. Shannon, who carried out much of his work at Bell Labs and MIT, is considered by many to have laid much of the foundation of the digital revolution through his papers on communication theory and information theory.
Founding members of the consortium include AT&T, CEA-LETI research center, China Mobile, Freescale Semiconductor, imec, The French National Institution of Technology, Portugal Telecom, Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology, the Research Laboratory for Electronics at MIT, Swisscom, the Wireless Systems Lab, Telefonica, and the IBES Institute at the University of Melbourne. The consortium expects additional companies and research institutions to join the effort.
Bell Labs said the Green Touch Initiative will deliver a reference network architecture and demonstrations of key components within five years.