Sustainable ICT solutions

Deutsche Telekom is helping millions of consumers and business customers effectively lower their energy consumption and reduce CO2 emissions with our growing offer of green products and innovative ICT  solutions. We have been offering services to dematerialize business processes such as online billing, digitized workflows and cloud computing for several years now. This contributes to the success of our "Low-carbon society" CR action area. We also want to give as many people as possible the chance to participate in the information society and to use the opportunities it offers. For example, we make it easier for people with age-related or physical limitations to use modern means of communication. We develop products and services that meet their needs and continue to work on improving user friendliness. Throughout the Group, Deutsche Telekom also offers various subsidized rates  to provide low-income customers and people with disabilities with an opportunity to place calls and surf the Internet at low cost.

Cloud computing  is often more resource- and energy-efficient than operating ICT  processes outside of the cloud. Significantly less hardware and energy is needed for computer programs and other IT processes at our data centers because capacities are much better utilized. By transferring their IT to the cloud, customers can do without their own servers and storage media; their IT processes are seamlessly moved to the cloud. Before this happens, we conduct a cloud maturity check, which establishes whether the existing business and IT processes fulfill the necessary preconditions for cloud computing in compliance with the Open Data Center Alliance (ODCA) maturity method. This helps customers develop and implement the right cloud strategy for them.

Energy consumption declines by up to 80 percent by transferring IT to the cloud due to the high degree of standardization in the data-centers. That is why we are constantly improving the efficiency of our data centers.

Sustainable solutions from the cloud
Since 2014, we have been offering standardized cloud solutions designed for large companies with our Cloud Integration Center product (formerly Enterprise Marketplace). Companies can use the center to access cloud services as needed. Their applications, servers, and other infrastructure are operated at our data centers. The Cloud Integration Center also supports solutions in which applications from independent third-party software vendors are provided via the Telekom Cloud (Shared Software as a Service – SaaS). One example of this is a sustainability management software that T-Systems began selling in collaboration with WeSustain software company and which can be purchased from the Cloud Integration Center.

T-Systems has also been offering the doculife® product since 2014 which allows companies to fully transfer their document management processes to the cloud. This service covers a range of applications from central administration and secure archiving through to direct, web-based access. In addition to using less energy than IT solutions run in-house, companies can use the service to significantly reduce their paper consumption thanks to digitalized processes.

Leading provider of cloud services
We were recognized for the quality of our cloud services in 2014. The Experton Group rated us as a "leader" in all six of the categories reviewed in their Cloud Vendor Benchmark. We got top scores in cloud services for small and medium-sized enterprises, our Business Marketplace cloud marketplace, and our Dynamic Workplace. The Experton Group used product tests, interviews with experts, and customer reference stories to rate more than one hundred cloud services providers.

We see sustainable products as crucial in helping us distinguish ourselves in the ICT  market. This applies to services and infrastructure as well as phones and routers. That is why we require our suppliers to comply with environmental and social requirements and monitor their compliance. We also keep our customers informed about environmental aspects, manufacturer conditions, safe, low-energy and demand-based usage, and resource-conserving disposal options at the end of the product life cycle.

All of our DECT  phones in the Sinus series have been certified under the well-known Blue Angel environmental label since 2013. We are planning to have other products certified under this label in 2015. More and more of our products are also being certified under the TUEV Certified Green Product environmental label. This label exceeds the Blue Angel criteria in ways such as requiring inspections of working conditions and production sites. Some of our products have already been certified, for example, the Speedphone 10 and the W 724V router.

In 2014 we conducted a study on harmful materials in cell phones in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration. The study identified materials that, although harmful to the environment, are currently not prohibited. We defined Deutsche Telekom's own list of prohibited materials over and above those covered by legal standards in order to send out a clear signal for a reduction in the industrial usage of substances that are problematic for the environment. Our suppliers are required to comply with this blacklist by the end of 2015.

A new non-profit company founded in Amsterdam launched a much-discussed smartphone, the Fairphone, in December 2013. The point of the Fairphone is to address key social and environmental problems along the supply chain and create "fair" production conditions. We collaborated with the Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) environmental organization to commission a study in order to support the initiative and address the demands of different stakeholders for a smartphone that is as fair and sustainable as possible. Representatives of 16 expert organizations, including Greenpeace and the German Federal Environment Agency were asked their opinion of the sustainability of the Fairphone 1.0. The following aspects were addressed:

  • Use of conflict-free resources
  • Smart, sustainable design
  • Fair production conditions
  • Recoverable materials and/or recycling
  • Transparency.

DUH published the results in June 2014. The study found that the Fairphone was a transparent, pioneering initiative. At the same time, it also admitted that it is not possible to guarantee total fairness right away with such a complex product. Fair structures on a larger scale still need to be created on the procurement markets. The study pointed out that the only way to do this was through collaboration among business, politics, and NGOs.

By using our products, our customers can help conserve resources and reduce electronic waste and CO2 emissions. We pursue two models: rental services for routers and media receivers and used cell-phone collection programs.

We want to make sure that old routers and media receivers do not just end up in the trash. That is why we promote the "Don't buy, rent" approach. We reduced our monthly rental fee for long-term rentals as an incentive for customers to use the devices for longer periods of time. Once the leasing period has expired, the devices are returned and either processed in accordance with environmental standards or properly recycled. We have also introduced longer minimum terms of contract for media receivers. This encourages first-time users to keep their devices longer, reducing goods volumes, and resource consumption.

We actively and effectively promote the rental service in many ways including at Telekom Shops, online, and in product flyers. The offer has met with great customer response. The number of people using the rental service had grown to around 7.4 million by the end of 2014 compared to 6.5 million in the prior year.

We organize numerous activities to encourage people not to stick the cell phones and smartphones they no longer use in a drawer or cupboard, but to hand them in for recycling or reuse instead. We came up with a number of ways for people to turn in cell phones and created incentives to participate.

Since 2013, we have been giving our customers the option to exchange their used, high-quality cell phones and smartphones for a voucher at our Telekom Shops. In November 2014, we also set up the Handysammelcenter online collection portal in collaboration with the Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) environmental organization. Companies can use the portal to properly and safely dispose of their used cell phones and smartphones free of charge. We provide these companies with a proof of disposal for the cell phones they send in. The portal can also be used by authorities, associations, and other organizations to initiate their own collection campaigns. The entire return process, including data deletion, has been certified by DEKRA. Once they have been returned, the devices are either reused or disposed of using environmentally friendly methods. Any profit generated in this way is donated to nature conservation and environmental protection projects run by DUH.

We also supported a collection campaign during the 2014/2015 school year conducted under the patronage of the Minister President of the Saarland, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, in which around 80 percent of secondary schools in Saarland participated. A campaign portal was set up to accompany the used cell-phone collection campaign and special classroom materials were developed on the topics of used cell-phone collection and resource efficiency.

We also conducted other campaigns during the reporting period to encourage people to hand in their used cell phones. In April 2014 we conducted a Germany-wide campaign on the topic. Customers were given a 100-euro discount if they turned in their used cell phones when signing a new contract. We launched a Christmas campaign at the end of the year giving customers who returned their used cell phones 20 percent off of accessory purchases. In 2014, we also collaborated with DUH to initiate a cell-phone campaign involving all groups at the German Parliament. Members of all parliamentary groups were asked to collect used phones in their constituencies and offices and turn them in to us for safe disposal. More than 1,200 used cell phones were handed in within the scope of the campaign.

In 2014, we collected 153,537 used cell phones and smartphones throughout Germany and either reused them or had them properly recycled. The joint cell-phone collection system run by Telekom Deutschland and DUH entered its eleventh year in 2014. More than 1.8 million used cell phones have been collected so far.

This take-back recycling program for batteries, ink cartridges and phones was launched in June 2013 with the aim of enhancing recycling activities in the OTE-COSMOTE-GERMANOS retail network, as well as strengthening society’s environmental awareness. By the end of 2014 the program had been implemented in almost 500 retail outlets. During 2014, more than 50 t of batteries, ink cartridges and phone devices were collected. For each ton of phone devices collected during the first year of the program implementation (7.6 t from June 2013 to June 2014) €1,000 was donated to two environmental NGOs who are active in organizing environmental educational programs for school communities, in particular with respect to forest and wild life protection.

T-Mobile USA’s handset recycling and reuse program provides the opportunity for customers to bring their used handsets to any T-Mobile location in the United States and Puerto Rico. Since handset recycling is one of the main environmental challenges in the telecom industry, T-Mobile USA is looking at all phases of the device lifecycle and creating incentives for customers to reuse, repurpose and recycle their used handsets.

Through the JUMP!™ upgrade program customers are offered strong incentives to bring their handsets back to T-Mobile USA. It is proving successful as increasing numbers of customers are bringing their handsets back to T-Mobile. Anytime customers are ready to upgrade, they can trade in their eligible device and receive credit for all remaining device payments, up to half of the original cost. T-Mobile then refurbishes and sells these devices to customers who are looking for used handsets at more affordable prices.

In 2014, we took back more than 5.7 million handsets. In total, our recycling rate* was 31 percent in 2014.

*Calculation: total annual handset returns (minus buyers’ remorse returns) / total handsets sold.


Deutsche Telekom makes it easier for people with disabilities to have access to the knowledge and information society. Not only do we offer subsidized rates to people from low-income households, we also offer them to people with hearing and vision impairments. Our company also supports them with products and solutions especially designed to meet their needs.

Products and services for the hearing impaired
We set up a hotline (Deaf Hotline) for deaf and hearing-impaired customers in 2003. The hotline offers customers emergency IT assistance, among other services. Customers can send an e-mail, fax message or letter, or use their video phone to communicate with our specially trained employees for any requests they may have. The employee either answers the question directly or lets the person know how to contact them via video telephony or webcam to talk about the issue. Up to 50 people currently call the hotline every day to get help with problems involving their DSL  routers or find out more about special cell-phone rate plans, for example.

We have been conducting a campaign entitled "Accessible sales and service for the hearing impaired" since 2013. Special sales channels for people with hearing impairments are set up as part of the campaign. Deutsche Telekom began featuring special offers in March 2014 for our deaf and hearing-impaired customers on a website tailored to their needs, for example. We plan to also provide detailed information on these offers in video messages filmed in sign language. The website also features Telekom support videos with subtitles providing information on our rate plans and products.

Tablets for the blind
Online communication can pose a challenge for people who are blind or visually impaired. We support the Green Vision project, which develops special tablets for these user groups. In 2014, the project received first place in the sustainability award of the T-Mobile Environmental and Sustainability Fund, which includes prize money of EUR 20,000. What is special about the Green Vision tablets is its haptic, interactive interface that provides content in Braille. The tablets literally make mobile online content tangible. In line with the project's name, Green Vision, production of the prototype is also intended to conserve natural resources.

First network operator in Germany to offer smartphone for seniors
Since October 2014, we have been offering a smartphone especially developed for seniors – the Liberto 820. We are currently the only German network operator to offer this type of device. With its simple user interface, even inexperienced cell-phone users have no problem using all the functions of a high-performance Android device. Users are guided through the functions step by step and shown how to use of the device. It can even be set up and administered remotely via an online device manager. The Liberto 820 is compatible with hearing aids and has an emergency button and two simple menu versions, making it especially suitable for seniors.

In 2014, T-Mobile Czech Republic has developed a one-of-a-kind platform with the working title “SAR  SMS   ” (Search & Rescue SMS   ) that allows mass text messages to be sent to a particular area where there is a high risk or threat to health or life. Thanks to this unique system, rescuers can promptly inform citizens about a search for a missing child, a fire, floods or other emergency situations. The motivation for developing this app not only came from the alarming number of missing children around the world but also from the need for an ultra-fast information channel in emergencies.