Sustainable green telcos: Phone and internet plans that won’t kill the planet

Alex Kidman
Mar 11, 2024
Icon Time To Read3 min read

What makes a telco “green”?


When we talk about “green” telcos, we’re talking about providers that have a stated plan with environmentally sustainable business practices at its heart. This could incorporate matters such as the use of renewable energy resources, lowering overall environmental impact of their business practices and more. The scope of each company’s commitments will vary, as will the goals it seeks to implement, whether that’s full carbon neutrality or just a promise to expand its in-office recycling capabilities.

Why you might choose a green telco or broadband


The reality of using telecommunications services is that they have an environmental impact. That’s inherent in every aspect, from the energy used to provide services, to the trucks that trundle down streets fixing cables, to the fancy lighted signs in the telco’s shops in your local shopping mall – or the servers used to provide animated ads if they’re an online-only MVNO.

All of that has an impact, and just as many of us are more carefully considering the ethics of other shopping choices we make day-to-day, it’s worth considering the impact of using those services and what they mean for the future of our planet. Greenpeace research suggests that 59.8% of Australian consumers would be more likely to purchase a mobile plan from a telco using clean energy sources.

Actively choosing a phone or broadband provider with a stated environmental action plan or position means that you’re spending your money on services that do less damage to the planet – and that’s a good idea.

Belong


Telstra-owned budget brand Belong can lay claim to being Australia’s first Carbon Neutral telco, having hit that goal back in 2019. Belong claims since then to have offset some 230,000 tonnes of CO2, as well as being part of parent company Telstra’s goal to cut its own carbon emissions by 50% by 2030.

Belong NBN Plans

Belong Mobile Plans

Felix Mobile


Felix Mobile is a TPG-owned MVNO that started life with a simple proposition built around an unlimited use, speed-capped mobile plan… but also a strong commitment to environmental sustainability. Felix Mobile was carbon neutral from its first day of operation back in 2020, runs entirely on renewable energy resources, but also pulls all of its customer base into its green story on a rolling basis. The green hook here is that for every month that you’re a Felix Mobile customer, it will arrange to have a tree planted on your behalf, with a goal of 2 million trees planted. At the time of writing it had managed (as per its claims) 1,600,586 trees – and counting.

Felix Mobile Plans

Goodtel


Goodtel’s whole pitch is around providing ethical services with 50% of its profits being donated directly back to charities, including green charities. The company is certified carbon neutral, and one of the charities consumers support by using its mobile or NBN products supports the preservation of the Daintree rainforest.

Plan
Speed
Price
Goodtel Casual25/10Mbps
$73
/mo
Goodtel Family 50/20Mbps
$70 for first month, then
$86
/mo
Goodtel Superfast100/20Mbp
$96
/mo
Goodtel Blazing250/25Mbps
$119
/mo

Telstra


The nation’s biggest telco covers off a wide array of environmentally sustainable practices as part of its ongoing green commitments. It’s carbon neutral, and committed to dropping its own energy usage across the board by 50% by 2030, with claims that it’s at cut at least 28% of its usage (and 30% for some uses) already. It’s creating its own forest of trees as part of a reforestation project in Northern NSW and using renewable and recyclable materials in 100% of its packaging.

Telstra NBN Plans

Telstra Mobile Plans

Optus


Optus’ commitment to environmental practices covers everything from redesigned SIM card packaging (where it claims it’s saving around 50 tonnes of cardboard use per year) as well as a carbon matching scheme called Optus Eco that customers can opt into using at a cost of 60c/month. Having done so, Optus will match your carbon offset as well.

Optus NBN Plans

Optus Mobile Plans

Vodafone


Vodafone’s pitch around environmental sustainability includes moves to incorporate more smart meters on its network to manage energy usage, seeking out more energy efficient equipment and using passive cooling fan systems on network infrastructure, as well as investigating the use of on-site solar power at some network sites to assess feasibility for future alternative energy systems in those locations. It’s worth noting that TPG, Vodafone’s parent company, has also vowed to be using 100% renewable energy sources by 2025 – and of course, it’s also the owner of Felix Mobile.

Vodafone NBN Plans

Vodafone Mobile Plans

Can we really call any telco or NBN plan “green”?


There’s often a juxtaposition put between technology and environmentally sound outcomes that suggests that all technology is automatically “anti” green, because it’s technology. Not only does this ignore the world we live in (of which technology is an embedded reality), it also ignores the ways that technology can lead to greener outcomes through its use. To take just one example, a meeting between employees of a global business that’s undertaken on zoom rather than using a FIFO arrangement is considerably greener.

Still, it’s worth looking at what services such as the National Broadband Network are doing in terms of environmental goals. Here NBN Co (that’s the company that built and runs the NBN, not the network itself, it’s not self-aware… yet…) commissioned an environmental impact report in 2022, covering off its commitment to purchasing 100% renewable energy by December 2025 while also pushing forward with initiatives to incorporate lower emissions technologies across all of its businesses.

Alex Kidman
Written by
Alex Kidman
Alex Kidman is some kind of word-generating AI from the future that somehow worked out how to sneak back in time to 1998 to start its journalism career. Across that time, including editorial stints at ZDNet, CNET, Gizmodo, PC Mag and Finder, as well as contributions to every major tech masthead, nobody has quite managed to figure out this deeply held secret. Let’s keep it between us, OK?

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