Social and Ecological Responsibility

To ensure that it has a successful sustainability record, the A1 Telekom Austria Group takes into account not only economic criteria, but social and ecological aspects as well. Being an ideal digitalisation partner allows it to make valuable contributions in all three areas.

Digitalisation offers promising prospects for economic development by opening up entirely new options for enhanced efficiency and growth that target an abun- dance of economic sectors and business models. Accordingly, the A1 Telekom Austria Group began long ago to transform itself from an infrastructure, connec- tivity and broadband provider into the ideal digitalisation partner. At the same time, the Group also specifically promotes the competent and safe use of digital media to ensure that the associated opportunities and potential are available to as many people as possible in wider society. The A1 Telekom Austria Group also takes steps to ensure that its infrastructure roll-out, operation, maintenance and dismantling activities are as sustainable as possible. The Group consequently plays its part in leveraging the potential of ICT to mitigate climate change. A study undertaken by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSi) in 2015 has shown that the use of ICT has the potential to cut global CO2 emissions by 20 % by 2030.

Sustainability management

The A1 Telekom Austria Group implemented a group-wide, integrated sustainability management system back in 2010. The group-wide sustainability strategy was de- rived from a materiality analysis (see Vision and Strategy). The Corporate Sustain- ability department is responsible for coordinating and managing sustainability ini- tiatives. As part of Group Communications & Sustainability under the direct re- sponsibility of CEO Alejandro Plater, this department coordinates the implementa- tion of the sustainability strategy with those in charge in the relevant countries.

Social commitment: A1 Internet for All

Studies such as the Global Information Technology Report 2016 by Strategy& project that an increasing rate of digitalisation will result in higher GDP, lower unemployment and greater innovation activity. In light of this, ‘digital fitness’ is becoming a top priority on both a societal and individual level.

Consequently, with its group-wide initiative ‘A1 Internet for All’, the A1 Telekom Austria Group is organising a series of free workshops to specifically promote the development of the knowledge and skills required to create equal opportunities for people to leverage the potential of digitalisation. As early as 2011, the Group founded the ‘A1 Internet for All’ media literacy initiative in Austria und rolled out comparable projects and initiatives in most countries the Group is active in.

The A1 Telekom Austria Group has set itself the goal of training as many as 150,000 participants by 2018 — with different workshops aimed at children, young adults, adults and senior citizens. For the children and young adults target group, the priority is to ensure they learn at an early age to shape the digital world and not just to consume it. Some of the content used for these workshops is also being supplied in the form of training materials for lessons. One of the as- pects of the initiative in Austria is to invite parents to attend information evenings, where they can learn about children’s online usage habits and how they can pro- tect children against any potential dangers. Training sessions for senior citizens focus on breaking down access barriers and encouraging experimentation. Inter- related courses, practical examples for daily digital life and tips on how to use digital media properly help to improve senior citizens’ understanding of the Inter- net. All workshops also touch on security and safety aspects. By 2017, more than 153,000 people participated in media literacy training, meaning the correspond- ing objective was achieved ahead of schedule.

According to the 2017 scientific evaluation undertaken by the NPO Centre of the Vienna University of Economics, A1 in Austria is playing an instrumental role in closing the ‘digital gap’.

Products with social value added

Digitalisation can also make daily life easier for socially deprived or physically impaired people. New information and communication technologies have the ca- pacity to help blind or severely visually impaired people, for example, to integrate into the general education system — even without the use of Braille. Vipnet also provides mobile phones featuring larger displays or simplified menu navigation for visually impaired people in Croatia. SMS and chat messaging are useful for hearing-impaired people, on the other hand. This is why velcom in Belarus offers special rates to people with impaired hearing, while A1 Slovenija offers special tariffs for blind and deaf people including data allowances (unlimited voice calls and text messages).

In a society in which people are progressively ageing, health is naturally of para- mount importance. E-health solutions are the future of the healthcare system in many areas. To that end, A1 in Austria is already contributing to provide a ‘Medical Data Network’. This network interlinks doctors, hospitals, laboratories and other healthcare institutions. The multimedia hospital bed, also known as the ‘E-Care Terminal’, is diversifying the conventional hospital bed, enriching everyday hospital life with a number of additional services and supporting the work processes of care staff. Simple applications like those supplied by A1 in Slovenia are also making life easier: The application ‘Vem, kaj jem!’ (‘I know what I’m eating!’) helps diabetics to keep track of their blood sugar level. And A1 in Slovenia is simplifying communica- tion between citizens and the authorities with e-government solutions.

Digitalisation and the environment

In its study, the Global e-Sustainability Initiative2) suggests that ICT has the potential to uncouple economic growth from increasing global emissions. The CO2 emissions produced by telecommunications companies originate from their vehicle fleets, heating and cooling, and especially from the electricity consump- tion of their networks. In this respect, the A1 Telekom Austria Group has set itself the target of reducing CO2 emissions by 25 % by 20203).

Ensuring that the dynamic increase in data processing and data storage as a result of digitalisation does not result in comparatively more energy and CO2 requires energy-efficiency-enhancing measures (see ‘Technology and Innova- tion’). However, these measures alone cannot replace the entire amount of elec- tricity required. Which is why the A1 Telekom Austria Group is endeavouring to meet the remaining electricity requirement as sustainably as possible. It is doing so by using electricity from renewable sources such as solar, hydro and wind power: In 2017, 62 % of the A1 Telekom Austria Group’s energy requirements were covered by renewable energy sources. The A1 Telekom Austria Group also operates two major solar parks — one since 2013 in Austria that produces an an- nual electricity volume of more than 200,000 kWh and one since 2016 in Belarus that produces an annual electricity volume of 24 million kWh.

In 2017, the employees of the A1 Telekom Austria Group used 5,180 vehicles and travelled a distance of around 105 million kilometres — the primary purpose of which was to perform network maintenance and expansion operations and pro- vide quality assurance and other services to customers. The Group has the same ambition here as it does for energy — to achieve the greatest possible efficiency. The first step is to reduce the number of kilometres travelled. This involves the use of innovative logistics concepts, video conferences and telepresence solutions. The second step is to use more sustainable propulsion models such as natural- gas-powered, hybrid and electric vehicles. Due to acquisitions, the A1 Telekom Austria Group is only around 0.4 % closer to its target of reducing CO2 emissions by 25 % between 2012 and 2020.

Internal preservation of resources

Taking action to preserve resources is also important in an office setting. Which is why the A1 Telekom Austria Group has set itself the target of reducing paper con- sumption by 10 % between 2016 and 2018. Digitalisation of internal work pro- cesses is highly important in this respect. An increasing number of mobile de- vices are being used for field services, for example, because they allow data at- tachments such as plans and assembly orders to be processed digitally. In Aus- tria alone, this practice saves around 100,000 sheets of paper per year. From 2018 onwards, all driver logbooks will be managed in a purely digitally manner as well. Aside from digitalising internal work processes, switching to double-sided printing as standard and procuring Follow Me printers, internal campaigns also reinforce environmental awareness, motivate employees and involve people actively in environmental measures.

Although it does not manufacture mobile devices itself, the A1 Telekom Austria Group contributes to preserve resources in this respect as well with its mobile phone recycling initiatives. Most of its subsidiaries — some since 2004 — allow cus- tomers to give back their old mobile phones free of charge. These old devices are passed on to specialist recycling companies, which recycle and reuse 70 % to 80 % of the substances contained in them. In Austria, for example, 100 % of the pro- ceeds from mobile phone recycling are used to fund climate protection projects.

ICT products providing ecological value

The A1 Telekom Austria Group is operating and maintaining its customers’ IT equip- ment with its range of housing services. The quality and standards of its data cen- tres ensure optimal security in this respect. The situation is similar for hosting, where the server infrastructure is relocated in a data centre. Relocating the in- frastructure means that electricity is used more efficiently and CO2 emissions are kept to a minimum. Integrated communication solutions like video conferencing make communication with customers and partners more efficient and environmen- tally friendly. The operation of A1’s network in Austria is 100 % carbon neutral, which reduces not only the company’s own CO2 emissions, but also the emissions of its customers. Services such as those supplied by subsidiary A1 Digital (see ‘Technology and Innovation’) help to reduce the environmental footprint.

Sustainability targets ‘society’


150,000 participations in media literacy training 1)

Promotion of social projects according to local needs

1) Cumulative figure since 2011.


In autumn 2017, ‘A1 Internet for All’ rolled out the new workshop series ‘Blogging Plus’ in Austria, with the aim of establishing a greater un- derstanding of blogging among senior citizens. It explains how a blog works, what topics are suit- able for blogs, how to create a blog and what safety aspects need to be considered. Theory is translated into practice in a series of training ex- ercises, using open source technologies to help senior citizens create their first blog posts.

Blogging Plus

Certified environmental

management systems


EMAS (since 2013)

ISO 50001 for energy management (since 2008)

ISO 14001 for environmental management (since 2004)


EMAS (since 2014)

ISO 14001 (since 2009)

Republic of Serbia

ISO 14001 (since 2015)

Republic of Macedonia

ISO 14001 (since 2016)

Hybrid exchange

In 2017, velcom in Belarus equipped its first mobile base station with a stand-alone, hybrid power supply system. The mobile base station system now draws its power from several solar panels. To ensure there is an adequate power supply available overnight, this solar energy is stored. Diesel generators are used on a short- term basis in adverse weather conditions only.


2) GeSi, SMARTer2030 (2015)

3) Baseline for target is 2012.


Social and Ecological


Information and communication technologies can help to encourage a more ecological way of life by minimising distances driven or flown — e. g. for business trips — and reducing consumption of hardware, energy, paper and other resources. From a social point of view as well, there are considerable advantages to digitalisation since digital media give everyone an equal opportunity for individual or social development.

Sustainability targets ‘environment’


Reducing CO2 emissions by 25 %

2016–2018 2)

Reducing power demand per terabyte of transferred data volume by 30 %

Reaching a constant recycling rate of 70 %

Reducing in-house paper consumption by 10 %

1) The baseline for target is 2012.

2) The baseline for targets is 2015.