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 2020.
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 98.7 percent of the rural and urban population in Germany with access to fast LTE mobile network connections. What’s more, over two thirds of the German population has access to the Deutsche Telekom 5G network. By the end of 2020, some 36 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.
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 launched the “Hunting down dead zones” campaign, which allowed municipalities in Germany with an LTE dead spot to apply for one of 50 new mobile masts. In the end, so many municipalities applied that we doubled the number of chosen winners to 100.
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 2020, it boasted a total length of some 575,000 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-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 around 75 percent 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.
More than skillsAs we see it, promoting media literacy isn’t just about ensuring people can navigate the web with confidence. It’s about making sure they feel welcome there and interact with other internet users in line with democratic principles. This is precisely what the interactive Magenta Moon experience in 2020 focused on. As part of this hybrid event in Berlin, we offered 47 online sessions on tackling hate speech and hosted on-site workshops for children and school classes. The event, which centered around digital learning, attracted attention on an international scale, with our communications reaching some 20 million people and over 1,300 individuals taking part in our workshops alone. We will continue with the Magenta Moon format in 2021.
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. In 2020, we released a chatbot on Facebook to ensure victims of online hate and people keen to make a stand can find support and establish contact with our partners even faster.
A few examples of our partnerships 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. 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.