Boost for growth

The growth boost

Digitalization is changing the economy at breakneck speed. It is adding enormous benefits in productivity and facilitating unprecedented individualization. Good-bye off-the-rack, hello tailor-made! According to one study, digitalization could increase economic output in Germany by an additional 82 billion euros by 2020. But that’s not all. Digitalization is also significantly contributing to achieving the goals of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda: to bring economic progress and prosperity in line with social justice and the respect for ecological limits. However, if digitalization is to reach its full potential for a better world, it must not be stopped by national borders.

Sustainable development
requires networking

  • As a European undertaking, we believe in the European vision of shared prosperity and social security. This prosperity is not based on isolation but on free trade, free competition and economic networking. Digitalization means economic growth – and the chance for a better, more sustainable future. However, this is not going to happen by itself, but a task for which politicians and companies alike must take responsibility. We want to play our part. By investing in digital infrastructure, we are creating the basis for sustainable and inclusive growth. Through our products and services we are offering solutions to social and environmental challenges. We are driving forward development in innovation, including by promoting digital start-ups with sustainable business models. We are also asking others to help shape digitalization, and are networking in politics, science and society. In this way, we are contributing to achieving the sustainability goals of the 2030 Agenda - with our core business and beyond.

Build a high-speed network

  • When it comes to expanding networks, we’re at full throttle. We already operate the largest fiber-optic network in Europe, at more than 455,000 kilome­ters. However, demand for higher bandwidths is constantly increasing. One of our goals is for 80 percent of the German popu­lation to soon be able to cruise the Inter­net with 100 Mbps. How will we achieve this? By keeping up the pace as we expand. In Germany, on average, one of the gray street cabinets on the curb was connected to the new technology every 3 minutes in 2017. Expand­ing our network infrastructure is helping us con­ tribute to the 2030 Agenda and the sustainability goal of building resilient infra­structure for sustain­ able innovation (SDG 9).

Starting a revolution

  • Another network revolution is imminent: 5G. This communications standard is a completely new network concept that aggregates fixed-line and mobile networks and builds on an entirely innova­tive network architecture. 5G is giving rise to un­dreamed-of possibilities: for new application areas, for new busi­ness models and, last but not least, for new jobs. 5G will provide up to 1,000 times higher capacity, 10 times better speeds, 10 times faster response time and 1.5 times better mobility compared to conventional technologies. Through 5G, for example, cars will be able to commu­ni­cate with each other in real time in the future. This could make the vision of safe, smooth traffic a reality. We are already
  • testing the future of commu­ni­cation in Berlin. Three antennas have been in use there since October 2017. They are the first live ones in a real environment in Europe to work with 5G. We were able to prove the industrial sustainability of 5G and the advantages for the energy sector in another practical test in the spring of 2017. In cooperation with the Berlin-based electricity supplier Stromnetz Berlin and tele­commu­ni­ca­tions company Ericsson, we demons­tra­ted that highly flexible communica­tions networks could soon be available thanks to 5G, which could be used in the shift toward wind and solar energy. 5G will therefore also be an im­portant tool in combating climate change and its consequences (SDG 13).

Protecting the climate

  • How can we separate economic growth from the consumption of natural resources? One answer is to use digitalization. For example, storing your data on the Telekom cloud instead of on your hard disk saves resources. But that’s not all: it also reduces CO₂ emissions, as our highly efficient, secure data centers use less energy to store data due to better capacity utilization. Technology can also help to reduce emissions in other sectors. According to the SMARTer2030 study, by 2030 savings of up to 2 billion metric tons of CO₂ could be made through the targeted application of information and commu­nication technologies. So how does it work? With intelligent agricultural machinery that helps farmers to optimize the use of fertilizers or seeds - resulting in higher yields while saving on water and CO₂ . The study also showed that information and communica­tion technologies have the potential to save almost 10 times more CO₂ emissions by 2030 in other industries than the ICT industry consumes itself. Digitalization is therefore a lever that can be used to achieve key sustainability goals: to break the link between growth and consumption of resources, save energy, and slow down climate change.

Investing in the future

  • How can we bring new ideas for the digital future to the streets? For one thing, we can invest in young start-ups and help them to develop. In 2012 we founded the start-up incubator hub:raum. In Berlin, Cracow and Tel Aviv we have worked with 200 start­ups since then. Among other things, we are promot­ing the develop­ment of innovative 5G appli­ca­tions in Europe. Possible areas where the new wireless standard will play a key role
  • include faster care for accident victims. With 5G, data can be transferred between first responders at the scene and hospital specialists in real time. And at Tele­kom Inno­vation Labo­ra­tories (T-Labs) we are working on innovative solutions for the near and distant future – in col­labo­ra­tion with scientists from several uni­ver­si­ties. Important fields of work at T-Labs in­clude virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

Let’s talk, not give orders

  • When we talk about digitalization, our discussion must also include issues of impact assessment and digital responsibility. What are the risks? Who will be the winners and losers? Under the heading “Are we stumbling blindly into digitalization? We need to do our digital duty” we launched an initiative in 2016 to address these issues. Expert interviews, extensive informational material and the opportu­nity to join in the discussion are all available on the website. The main idea behind this is that no individual can define “digital responsibility” – we can only do that together. That’s why we’re involved in different member­ships and collaborations, including as a member of the “Charter of Digital Networking”. This is a voluntary alliance of German companies that are committed to shaping digital­ization respon­sibly. The opportunities and risks of digitalization for climate protection were also a subject of the discussion forum we held during the World Climate Conference together with the Global e-Sustainability Initiative industry association in November 2017.

Leveraging the circular economy

  • If it’s broken, throw it away - all too often this is the way our consumer model works. This leads to the loss of valuable resources while garbage piles grow. The idea of a circular economy offers a more promising solution, where resources return to the production process through recycling. As a tele­coms company, we are doing our part to decrease
  • the resource consumption of ICT products. In our leasing model for routers and media receivers the devices are used for longer, and discarded devices are refurbished whenever possible for reuse, which extends their life cycle. Our cell-phone collection program also ensures that valuable raw materials are returned to the value chain.