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IP Desk Phones Sold in 2008 to Create 47million kg of E-Waste

OnRelay, a UK telecommunications software company, today issued a wake up call for European businesses to reconsider their investment in redundant IP telephony hardware like desk phones.

Calculating the real cost and waste implications of IP telephony, Marie Wold, President and CFO of OnRelay, notes, "We do business in an increasingly mobile environment - 50 to 70% of enterprise voice minutes are already mobile. Landline office phones are simply a waste. High performance mobile networks exist in every corner of the world, and the cost to use mobile phones is dropping dramatically. Using public mobile networks is becoming far more efficient than building and maintaining a private phone network inside a company."

Regardless, 22 million IP desk phones were still sold in 2007, according to research by In-Stat Market Research. There are now Fixed Mobile Convergence technologies available that enable enterprises to seamlessly use mobiles as office phones, without replacing their back-office phone servers.

Citing an example, Wold continues, "An enterprise deployment of 10,000 IP extensions includes a large hidden cost of LAN switches, routers, cabling and power supplies required to support the IP voice traffic. Of the staggering EUR10.9 ($15.8M) total cost of the IP telephony deployment, 80% is related to the desk phones and corresponding LAN upgrades." Wold asserts that most, if not all, employees can manage their office communications equally well or better with just their mobiles, thereby dramatically reducing the cost of the IP telephony implementation.

The e-waste equivalent for this unnecessary infrastructure is astounding. Organisations globally will ultimately be held accountable for the following amount of waste from their 2008 IP telephony investments: - 47 million kg of solid waste - the weight of a WWII battleship
- 1.5M km of cabling - enough cable to stretch to the moon and back

Add to this the millions of cubic metres of packaging, tons of plastic, PVC, lead, Bromine-based flame retardant, Beryllium, Cadmium, Chromium and Mercury.

"Electronic waste is of concern largely due to the toxicity and carcinogenicity of some of the substances if processed improperly. Toxic substances in electronic waste may include lead, mercury and cadmium. Carcinogenic substances in electronic waste may include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Up to thirty-eight separate chemical elements are incorporated into electronic waste items. By not buying deskphones, European businesses would thereby reduce the amount of toxic substances that this waste releases into the environment," Wold continues.

Having promoted its MBX product as an IP desk phone replacement for years, OnRelay has increasingly become aware of the potential positive environmental impact of its MBX technology. "Admittedly we did not plan or invent our MBX product as a green technology from the outset. However, when building business cases and ROI models for our customers, the amount of unnecessary waste resulting from large IP telephony deployments became readily apparent. As the telecom industry is becoming more aware of issues such as e-waste and carbon footprint we are very pleased that our technology can help enterprises take a step in the right direction," Wold concludes.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.