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Richard Karpinski Rich Karpinski is Executive Editor-Features for Telephony, covering OSS/BSS and NGN technologies. He has worked for many high-tech trade magazines and Web sites and began his career...more

Al Gore challenges wireless industry to think beyond profits

Adding the green theme to this year’s CTIA Wireless, Former vice president and Nobel peace laureate Al Gore today commended the wireless industry on its efforts to combat global warming, but said there was still much more work to do. Delivering the final keynote to this year’s conference, Gore said while he believes strongly in the profit motive as the driving force of the economy, some of the most successfully companies are those willing to pursue higher goals than dollars and cents.

Gore said that in the future will judge the present on how it handles global warming today, and it will look favorably on the companies, institutions and individuals that devoted their resources to solve a seemingly impossible problem. Whichever solutions are ultimately developed and utilized, Gore said, wireless technology will be a critical component.

“Wireless is going to be one of the key tools we use to solve the climate crisis,” Gore said. “The wireless communications industry is at the heart of the transition we need to make.”

Gore acknowledged the significant steps that the wireless industry has already taken toward eliminating carbon emissions and reducing waste. Phone’s like Motorola’s Renew and Samsung’s Blue Earth, use recycled materials and, in the case of latter, incorporate solar cells directly into the device. A concept phone from Nokia reuses parts of older phones and nanotechnology to print electrical circuitry rather than rely on chipsets. LG Electronics is deploying solar powered phone charging station. Meanwhile equipment vendors have taken steps to reduce their gear’s power consumption and thus reduce their carbon footprint as well as developed cell sites powered by wind, solar, geothermal and biodiesel energy. Carriers have begun deploying solar and fuel cells at cellsites as back-up power sources to replace environmentally unfriendly diesel generals and batteries.

While lauding those efforts, Gore said some of the most significant contributions wireless will make will be in linking together other green industries, technologies and initiatives. In applications like telemedicine, wireless enables information to be shared without patients driving long distances to see doctors and without generating stacks of paper records. The power industry will eventually move away from large centralized power plants, to create distributed electric grids fed by millions of power nodes drawing green energy from renewable sources, each of which need to communicate and coordinate one another. Wireless provides the key connection technology to manage those grids, Gore said.

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