Though a clean-slate approach may deliver fresh ideas, it's likely to take a long time for the revolutionary products that come from Green Touch to start saving energy. Between standardization, product development and trials, it typically takes between five and 10 years after the first lab demonstrations for a totally new technology to be deployed, Rittenhouse said.
The Green Touch initiative is critical for the long-term future of communications, though it faces some challenges, according to analyst Kneko Burney of Compass Intelligence.
"There is no other objective more pressing than to ensure that the demand for energy does not exceed the limitations of our ability to generate it," Burney said in an e-mail interview.
"There does not seem to be a clear plan for Alcatel in this consortium, and the list of members is still quite modest. But, this is to be expected. It will take time for Alcatel to pull in more members and really make some scientific and technical breakthroughs," she said.
"The big question is, how long can the scientists in Alcatel do their science thing in this highly competitive market without the wolves of capitalism requiring profit-generating activities from them," Burney added.
For Rittenhouse and Alcatel, Green Touch is an aspirational as much as a practical effort.
"This allows us to set an ambitious goal, a very high bar, with an exciting possibility at the end," he said.