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AT&T goes green with home monitoring service and eco-ratings for cell phones

AT&T is launching a new home monitoring and automation service to help reduce energy usage, and it's will soon rate the environmental impact of devices it sells for its network.

AT&T is making two announcements in conjunction with the upcoming Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that could help consumers reduce their environmental footprints.

AT&T logo

First, the company is announcing a new remote monitoring platform that will ultimately allow users to remotely and automatically adjust energy usage in their homes. The service and technology is being developed for international carriers, who can then develop and sell energy conserving services around the world. The service platform will also allow carriers to offer home security services too.

AT&T is calling the new platform Digital Life. The system, which can be sold as an AT&T hosted service or service hosted by an AT&T carrier customer, includes all the necessary gear such as motion detectors, connected cameras, security keypads, window and door sensors, lighting and thermostat controls, smoke detectors, and water sensors.

Carriers will then be able to customize services that they will sell directly to consumers or to other business, such as energy companies. Through a Web interface end users will be able to adjust thermostats or monitor energy usage. AT&T will show off the new security and monitoring systems in Barcelona next week.

In addition to the new monitoring service, AT&T also announced Thursday that it will offer a new eco-rating system that will appear on AT&T branded devices. The rating system is designed to give environmentally conscious customers a simple way to see the environmental impact of mobile handsets before they buy them. AT&T developed the rating system with the Business for Social Responsibility, a consultancy that helps companies build sustainability into their businesses.

The new rating system will launch later this year. Attributes considered in the rating system include environmentally preferable materials, energy efficiency, responsible end-of-life treatment and environmentally responsible manufacturing. AT&T says it will use simplified labels and terms to describe these complex issues to help educate consumers. And ultimately it hopes that the rating system can eventually encourage meaningful design changes from manufacturers in the industry.

AT&T isn't the only service provider who is going green. Sprint Nextel has made a big push over the past couple of years to sell handsets that are made from recycled materials. And the company has also taken steps to use more renewable energy.

Last year Verizon introduced its own home energy monitoring service for consumers.