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. At the end of the day, EVERYONE should be able to participate in the knowledge and information society. As we see it, this also demands that people who have different opinions, sexual preferences, or customs are treated with respect online.
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 and services, and the ability to use digital media competently. It is important to pay equal attention to all three of these factors if the improvement in digital participation is to be both meaningful and sustainable.
billion euros was invested in expanding our network in 2019.
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 98 percent of the rural and urban population in Germany with fast LTE cellular links, and 30 million households were already benefiting from fast broadband internet at the end of 2019. 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.
Hunting down dead zonesDead spots have not yet been completely eradicated. To eliminate the final coverage gaps from the map, we have set ourselves the task of erecting some 2,000 new mobile masts every year. That’s sometimes easier said than done, though, because building or legal regulations mean masts cannot be erected everywhere they are required. We are therefore working closely with our competitors and sharing masts to speed up the expansion. In 2019, we also initiated a campaign to hunt down dead zones by encouraging municipalities with an LTE dead spot to apply for one of 50 new mobile masts. Last but not least, we are really pulling out all the stops with the expansion of 5G – the new turbocharged successor to LTE.
On average, one kilometer of glass fiber costs about 70,000 euros.
The fiber-optic takeoverDid you know that Deutsche Telekom operates the largest fiber-optic network in Europe? At the end of 2019, it boasted a total length of some 550,000 kilometers. 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 cellular link 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 and 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. We therefore offer a whole host of different rate plans for every budget. The “Magenta Mobil Young” (website in German) rate plans for anyone under the age of 28 are just one example. We are also the only supplier in Germany to offer a subsidized rate for eligible customers. 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 sell used, refurbished smartphones (website in German) that are in perfect technical condition at significantly reduced prices that make them affordable even to those on a tight budget. In addition to being cheaper, they’re good for the climate, too, because the manufacturing process accounts for around 75 percent of a smartphone’s CO2 emissions. Using smartphones for longer thus reduces emissions of greenhouse gases that harm the environment.
We want everyone on board as we head into the digital future. And that means going online should bring positive experiences and do no harm. Data security and data protection are top priorities for us. Navigating the web skillfully is equally important, though, so we promote media literacy among children, young people, and adults of all ages. They should all learn how to use digital media in a targeted, critical, responsible, and creative way. Here are a few examples of our commitment to media literacy in Germany:
The #DABEI-Geschichten portal forms part of the “Media, sure! But secure.” initiative and addresses the latest everyday digital issues, such as how to protect yourself against online harassment and bullying.
Under the “Media, sure! But secure.” umbrella, “Teachtoday” supports children, young people, parents, grandparents, and teaching professionals with practical everyday tips and materials.
The Scroller children’s media magazine uses methods geared specifically to children aged between 9 and 12 to improve their media literacy. It is available in both an interactive web version and a free print format.
In collaboration with BAGSOGoldenen Internetpreis (golden years internet award; website in German), which is presented to committed individuals who help older people use the web.– the German National Association of Senior Citizens’ Organizations – we promote media literacy among older people and support the
More than literacyAs we see it, promoting media literacy also means helping to ensure everyone is able to participate confidently and constructively in democratic processes and social debates. The spotlight was on this very issue in 2019 at an unexpected location – IFA in Berlin, the world’s largest consumer electronics trade show – where we risked an experiment. Our booth focused not only on new products and services, but also on digital participation. On each day of the event, exciting workshops on “Digital democracy”, “Banishing trolls”, and “Recognizing fake news” were held. The experiment was a success, with 665 visitors taking part, even though none of them came to the trade show with that in mind.
Our cooperation partners
We are working closely with numerous initiatives, networks, and associations to improve digital participation. Here are a few examples of our cooperations in Germany:
This association offers online support to young people experiencing cyber-bullying, WhatsApp stress, and similar problems. In 2019, for example, we held joint cyber-bullying workshops with teachtoday.
ZDK Gesellschaft Demokratische Kultur / Hass hilft
These internet activists combat online hate comments. We make donations to support the project. In 2019, we were involved in a joint discussion session at IFA.
Reporterfabrik – CORRECTIV
This team of reporters guards against deliberate fake news and is committed to promoting media literacy. We are supporting the creation of the “Reporterfabrik” web academy and holding joint workshops on various digital topics.
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.
Gesicht Zeigen! Für ein weltoffenes Deutschland e.V.
Gesicht Zeigen! (show your true colors) encourages people to stand up to xenophobia, racism, antisemitism, and violent far-right extremism. We have been supporting this organization for many years.