Barbara Costanzo, Vice President for Group Social Engagement at Deutsche Telekom AG
We help people navigate the web with confidence and follow democratic rules so that everyone can #TAKEPART.
#TAKEPART is all about equal participation in social, economic, and cultural life. Everyone should be able to make use of the opportunities the web offers us – bringing us closer to family and friends, making learning more enjoyable, improving health care, and ensuring better mutual understanding as a result of coming across different perspectives every day online. Our #TAKEPART brand campaign therefore also encourages greater tolerance when we interact with each other digitally. As we see it, this also demands that people who have different opinions, sexual orientations, or customs are treated with respect online. At the end of the day, EVERYONE should be able to participate in the knowledge and information society and harness the many benefits of the digital world.
How we are encouraging digital participationWe believe there are three key factors for ensuring everyone can participate in our digital society on equal terms – technical access to fast networks, the affordability of equipment, plans, and services, and the ability to use digital media competently. As we understand it, “ability” goes beyond media literacy and also encompasses being able to coexist in the digital world in line with democratic principles.
billion euros were invested in expanding our networks in 2021.
Spades at the ready!Superfast, continuous web access is the ultimate goal, so we are working hard to give everyone high-speed internet connections. We are already able to provide 99 percent of the rural and urban population in Germany with access to fast LTE mobile network connections. What’s more, over 90 percent of the German households have access to the Deutsche Telekom 5G network. By the end of 2021, some 36.6 million German households were already enjoying rapid broadband internet of over 16 Mbit/s. That’s still not enough for us, though, so we are investing billions in network expansion. Our aim is to eliminate the final dead spots and make real progress with expanding the fiber-optic network.
Also #TAKEPART on the trainWe are working with Deutsche Bahn to improve mobile reception on trains so that passengers using the Deutsche Telekom mobile communications network will be able to make calls and surf the net on all routes – enjoying a much better connection than at present, without any interruptions. By 2026 at the latest, coverage gaps along all railway lines of long-distance and regional services are to be eliminated. Together, we are investing a nine-figure sum in this project. Nearly all passengers can already make use of the internet while on the train. Many rail users view much better mobile reception as important, especially if they are using the train as an office, a conference room, or somewhere to relax rather than simply as a way of getting from A to B. An enhanced on-board experience can therefore help the climate by driving the mobility revolution.
On average, one kilometer of fiber-optic cable costs around 70 000 euros.
The fiber-optic takeoverDid you know that Deutsche Telekom operates the largest fiber-optic network in Europe? By the end of 2021, this boasted a total length of over 650 000 kilometers in Germany only. Depending on the technology, we lay the cables directly into homes (fiber to the home) or as far as the gray street cabinets (fiber to the curb) . This requires a lot of time and money – each kilometer of fiber-optic cable costs an average of 70 000 euros – so connection to the fiber-optic network is not economically viable everywhere. Our solution in such cases is a hybrid connection that combines the speed of a DSL line with that of an LTE-based mobile connection to increase the broadband speed. Funding programs at national or state level are a further possibility for cost-effective expansion. Just like other companies, Deutsche Telekom also applies for such funding. A new cable-laying method called trenching has the potential to make the build-out both faster and less expensive. We are currently in dialog with city and municipal authorities to ascertain where this method could be used.
Internet access is not a luxury
It’s obviously not possible for everyone to have the latest smartphone or the plan with the largest data volume, but a fast internet connection and a modern mobile device that works properly should not be an unaffordable luxury. That is why we offer different plans to suit every budget, such as our “Magenta Mobil Young” plans for anyone under the age of 28. What’s more, we are the only supplier in Germany to offer a subsidized rate for customers who find themselves in particular circumstances. Recipients of BAföG student grants or unemployment benefits and those with severe disabilities, for example, can apply for the subsidized rate for their phone line. We also refurbish and sell used smartphones in perfect technical condition at affordable prices. In addition to being cheaper, they’re good for the climate, too, because the manufacturing process accounts for a large proportion of a smartphone’s CO2 emissions. Using smartphones for longer thus reduces emissions of greenhouse gases that harm the environment.
Simplified language as part of digital participation
The “LEO 2018 – living with reduced literacy” study by Universität Hamburg discovered that 6.2 million adults in Germany cannot read or write properly. Our aspiration, however, is to ensure everyone can understand all our content – even when we address complex issues. After all, what use is the best content if it isn’t understood or if the language makes people feel uneasy? That is why we translate certain parts of our CR report and, most importantly, our #TAKEPART stories into simplified language and have them checked by a team of experts and labeled accordingly.
Our cooperation partners
We are working closely with numerous initiatives, networks, and associations to improve digital participation. Our “No hate speech” campaign alone involves 44 partners, many of which are introduced in greater detail in our topical specials.
A few examples of our partnerships in Germany:
Users of the “Diskutier Mit Mir” (discuss with me) platform can chat online with other people about all kinds of issues. We have jointly hosted workshops for constructive communication on digital platforms.
These internet activists combat online hate comments. They are also the people behind the initiative “EXIT-Germany”, which was founded in 2000 and has already helped over 800 people leave the far-right extremist scene.
This team of reporters guards against deliberate fake news and is committed to promoting media literacy. As the initiative’s exclusive partner, we are helping build the “Reporterfabrik” web academy.
managerfragen.org is committed to open, fair, and direct dialog between members of the public and managers. Deutsche Telekom and managerfragen.org have developed a series of formats that are used at events to make people aware of web phenomena. We also work together to host workshops.
The “ichbinhier e.V.” association raises awareness of online hate. It helps people and institutions to defend against digital attacks and promotes more digital civil courage. We work together to develop formats and host regular workshops.