An analysis by research firm Verdantix finds that, despite their positive internal efforts to boost energy efficiency and reduce environmental impacts, most telecom companies have done very little to help their clients get greener.

The new report, "Green Quadrant: Sustainable Telecoms Europe," compares the internal and customer-facing strategies of nine major European telecommunications companies: AT&T, BT, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, TeliaSonera, Verizon and Vodafone.

Of the nine companies, only Orange is singled out for its work on helping their customers adopt tools and strategies to achieve corporate environmental and energy efficiency goals.

"Among Europe's leading telecoms operators only Orange stands out as a firm that has made deep and broad commitments to launch innovative sustainability offerings for their customers" said Verdantix Director and telecoms industry veteran David Metcalfe. Overall, he added, "there is little evidence that Europe's telcos as a whole make meaningful contributions to their customers' sustainability goals."

Despite the lack of significant action, the majority of firms surveyed said that IT can be a powerful tool in achieving their sustainability goals: IT was ranked third overall in a list of important functions, right behind facilities management and the health, safety and environment department.

Two categories of green IT offerings were most prominent in the survey: data center optimization and video teleconferencing. Data centers have been in the spotlight for some time, and 94 percent of the respondents said that steadily increasing demand for computing power and storage, as well as similarly steady growth in costs of electricity were primary drivers of their green data center project.

Videoconferencing has a similar cost-savings benefit, as companies seek to trim their travel budgets in tight economic times; but 73 percent of respondents also said that reducing the environmental impacts from air travel and corporate fleets was a reason for pursuing telepresence projects.

Green IT offers many solutions that can address not just travel and data centers' impacts; companies are increasingly putting IT strategies to work on managing facilities' energy use, reducing paper waste, optimizing the energy use of PC fleets, and much more.

Based on Verdantix's survey and analysis, Orange is the only European telecom that has earned the title of green IT leader, but the report says that four additional firms have the potential to lead in the coming months.

The four companies -- BT, Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica and Vodafone -- are all cited for the depth of their internal sustainability commitments; but unless they put their internal green IT experts to work on helping customers, these companies will fail to gain a significant foothold in the sustainable telecommunications market.

Another four companies were cited for lagging behind their competitors in the European markets: AT&T, Telecom Italia, TeliaSonera and Verizon are all failing both with internal sustainability initiatives and customer-facing projects.

The full report, "Green Quadrant: Sustainable Telecoms Europe," is available for purchase from Verdantix.com.