The telecommunications industry is being shaped by anongoing increase in demand for additional bandwidth andconnectivity in relation to more and more connected lives.
Forward-looking infrastructure roll-out
Cisco’s1) projection for the development of data demand between now and 2021underscores the importance of continuously developing the telecommunicationsinfrastructure. The A1 Telekom Austria Group is accounting for the dynamicincrease in data volumes transported via its networks through extensive invest-ment. In the 2017 financial year, a total amount of EUR 736.9 mn (CAPEX) wasinvested, with one of the areas of focus being broadband expansion.
The convergence of fixed-line and mobile networks is playing an instrumental rolein ensuring that the A1 Telekom Austria Group has a high-quality, future-proofnetwork infrastructure. After all, to guarantee efficient, increasingly wider region-al coverage with increasingly greater bandwidth is to intelligently combine thesetwo technologies. Which is why the A1 Telekom Austria Group has already estab-lished itself as a convergent operator in six of the seven core markets in its oper-ating region (Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Belarus, Slovenia, Republic of Macedo-nia). The forthcoming 5G communications standard, the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT)and cloud-based services for the B2B market all require high computingcapacity. This is resulting in increasing relevance for data centres as the thirdpillar of the A1 Telekom Austria Group’s infrastructure strategy.
Fixed-line broadband expansion
Fixed-line broadband expansion is being driven forward by the fibre roll-out inthe form of FTTC, FTTB and FTTH (see graphic). In addition to bringing fibrecloser to the customer, the performance of remaining copper lines is beingincreased by combining the noise cancellation technology vectoring with trans-mission technologies such as VDSL2 and G.fast, with target transmission rates ofseveral 100 Mbps for medium line distances. G.fast typically provides data ratesof approx. 500 Mbps. In lab trials, advanced G.fast technologies already allowtransmission rates of several Gbps.
Since July 2016, A1 in Austria has also been offering its customers a hybridmodem that combines mobile and fixed-line infrastructures in order to providefixed-line products with higher bandwidths. The modem’s smart technologyallows the bandwidths of both technologies to be combined. If necessary, A1’shybrid modem can supplement the performance of DSL fixed-line connectionswith LTE. As a result, data speeds of up to 150 Mbps can be achieved and morehouseholds can be reached with higher bandwidths. Once again, A1’s hybridmodem highlights network convergence as one of the key pillars of the A1Telekom Austria Group’s strategy.
Mobile network expansion
The A1 Telekom Austria Group offers the LTE (long-term evolution) mobile commu-nications standard in Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovenia, the Republic of Serbiaand the Republic of Macedonia. The accelerated roll-out of LTE Advanced in 2017led to a significant improvement in the supply of high-speed mobile Internet inAustria, Croatia, Slovenia, the Republic of Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia. Inorder to achieve even faster mobile Internet, the A1 Telekom Austria Group is usingLTE Carrier Aggregation with 256 QAM, a complex modulation technique, at select-ed locations in Austria, Croatia and the Republic of Serbia, enabling data rates ofup to 400 Mbps. In Slovenia, the use of 4×4 MIMO (multiple input multiple output)during a field test produced data transmission rates of over 850 Mbps. CarrierAggregation, complex modulation techniques and massive MIMO will also play akey role in 5G since these serve as a technological basis for high bandwidths andthe particularly efficient use of available frequency bands.
Data centres: Third infrastructure pillar
State-of-the-art, highly secure data centres will continue to become more impor-tant going forward. Which is why they form the third pillar of the A1 TelekomAustria Group’s infrastructure, alongside mobile and fixed-line networks. The fol-lowing technological developments are playing an important role in this respect:
▸Network function virtualisation (NFV) can be operated in IT data centres withhigher agility and cost-efficient, commercial off-the-shelf hardware.
▸Growing customer demand for cloud-based solutions (e. g. SaaS, PaaS, IaaS)via secure, local data centres.
▸Applications like the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT), Advanced Analytics and 5G de-velop their full potential through edge computing. Applications with a hugeamount of processing power are run in as close proximity as possible to the sitewhere the service is provided in local or regional data centres.
In 2017, this prompted the A1 Telekom Austria Group to lay the groundwork foran ultra-modern data centre in Austria and conclude the construction of a datacentre with cutting-edge technology in Belarus. Future-proof technologies likeSDN (Software Defined Networking) are an essential part of state-of-the-art datacentres, because they enable highly efficient and flexible use of the individualcomponents and services within a data centre. SDN allows network traffic to beprogrammed and managed centrally, without having to manually access eachindividual physical network component.
The A1 Telekom Austria Group successfully continued its network infrastructurevirtualisation program across all its subsidiaries in 2017. At the beginning of2017, velcom implemented the first fully virtualised commercial core network inthe world in Belarus as part of its ‘virtual one core’ flagship project.
Through the establishment of A1 Digital as a subsidiary, the Group is highlightingits self-perception as a driver of digitalisation and is focusing on individual solu-tions for small and medium-sized companies. A1 Digital focuses on two areas inparticular: IoT and cloud-based ICT solutions.
In the first case, increasingly cost-efficient and thus more widely availablesensors, screens and more powerful processors provide an abundance ofapplications and business models — for instance, in the areas of asset tracking,fleet management or smart metering. In the second case, software solutions viacloud-based marketplaces are being made available especially to small andmedium-sized companies (Software as a Service (SaaS)). Infrastructure as aService (IaaS) is reducing the complex and costly acquisition and modernisationof hardware, such as servers, and is thereby also conserving resources. Cloud-based solutions allow companies to adapt their applications, IT infrastructure,computing power, network capacity and storage in a flexible and scalable man-ner. This requires less energy than a conventional office infrastructure, and alsoemits fewer CO2 emissions (see ‘Social and Environmental Responsibility’).
Alongside service and consultancy expertise, A1 Digital also prioritises data se-curity and infrastructure quality. Thanks to data centres in Europe, the security ofall activities is governed and enforced by EU legislation.
The acquisition of Swiss cloud provider Exoscale in September 2017 is now allow-ing A1 Digital to offer cloud-based services on this platform, too. Zurich and Gene-va are now also available as ‘points of delivery’ alongside Vienna and Frankfurt.
Ecological network design
The A1 Telekom Austria Group’s biggest environmental impact is generatedthrough electricity required to operate its networks. This accounts for around 80 %of its total energy demand. Applying the latest RAN (Radio Access Network) equip-ment in A1 Telekom Austria Group’s subsidiaries not only guarantees best quality ofservice but also aims to achieve energy efficiency. This is why old 2G and 3G equip-ment is renewed when rolling out LTE. Innovative cooling techniques including hotspot suction, cold aisle containment and heat recovery systems can reduce elec-tricity 1) consumption by as much as 75 % compared with conventional coolingsystems. The A1 Telekom Austria Group’s energy efficiency was improved by anoverall figure of around 26 % between 2016 and 2017. In 2017, its total energyconsumption was 791,790 MWh. Its electricity requirements amounted to655,355 MWh, of which 62 % was generated from renewable energy sources.
The A1 Telekom Austria Group adheres to the following ecological principles inlife cycle management: avoid waste, preserve resources and keep valuable rawmaterials in the cycle for as long as possible (Reduce — Reuse — Recycle). Out-of-service devices or facilities are systematically dismantled and their componentsprofessionally recycled.
Energy from sustainable sources
Efficiency measures alone are not enough to compensate for total electricity vol-umes. Which is why the A1 Telekom Austria Group takes steps to ensure that anyamount of electricity that cannot be reduced by taking appropriate measures isas sustainable as possible — by using electricity from renewable sources such assolar, hydro and wind power. The A1 Telekom Austria Group’s largest solar parkopened in Belarus in mid-2016, spans 41 hectares and has 85,000 solar panels,which produce roughly 24 million kWh of electricity per year. In Austria, Bulgaria,Croatia, Belarus, Slovenia and the Republic of Serbia, there are about 100 mobilebase stations running on solar and wind power or on hydrogen fuel cells.
Despite research findings such as those presented by the European Commis-sion’s Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks(SCENIHR), which find no causal link between mobile phones and health prob-lems, when it comes to the topic of mobile communications there is constantspeculation regarding electromagnetic fields (EMF). The A1 Telekom AustriaGroup complies with — and even keeps well below — all exposure limits recom-mended by the ICNIRP/WHO for daily operations involving base stations andmobile devices.
The A1 Telekom Austria Group meets the needs of its customers with a broad andinnovative range of products. This clear focus on customer requirements producesinnovations like the A1 hybrid modem or ‘A1 Smart Home’. To identify customer re-quirements and learn how the Group’s products and services are being received onthe market, the A1 Telekom Austria Group uses a number of information channels,including shops and service lines, social media like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube,customer apps and Google+, and its own support communities.
To assert its leadership in the field of technology and infrastructure, the A1 TelekomAustria Group focuses on many areas of research and development (R&D). Thetopic of innovation has been implemented as a strategic cornerstone. In Austria, A1promotes innovation by new companies with its ‘Start Up Campus’ initiative, whichprovides expertise and infrastructure to help make innovations a reality.
In addition, the A1 Telekom Austria Group is a partner of the Industry 4.0 platformand is addressing the interoperability of IoT platforms within the pan-EuropeanH2020 project symbIoTe, which is supported by the European Union and is alsoexpected to bolster research in the IoT. ▬
1) Cisco, The Zettabyte Era (2017)
Devices and connections
2016: 27,5 Mbps
2021: 53 Mbps
% of population
2016: 12,9 GB
2021: 35,5 GB
2016: 44 %
2021: 58 %
Fibre to the Building
Up to 250 m
Up to 500 m
Fibre to the Curb
(VDSL2 inkl. Vectoring)
Fibre to the Home
1) Access Remote Unit
Fibre to the Curb
(Vplus inkl. Vectoring)
Up to 800 m
Source: Cisco, VNI Forecast Highlights Tool (2017),Data on a global basis
Mobile communications technologies at a glance
9,6 – 236 Kbps
Voice and firstdata services
Bis zu 400 Mbps
Voice and highspeeddata services
Targeted > 1 Gbps
High bandwidth andminimal latency
No data transmission
1974 – 2001
0,3 – 42 Mbps
Voice and broadbanddata services
quality in 2017
▸Connect Test: Winner (Austria)
▸futurezone Netztest: Winner (Austria)
▸DMTEL GSM/UMTS/LTE Quality Test:
▸Notel RF Benchmark Quality Assurance:
▸Ookia Fastest Network in Serbia: Winner(Republic of Serbia)
The SDN-based product SD WAN (Software Defined Network-ing in a Wide Area Network), which has been available tobusiness customers (with a focus on small and medium-sizedcompanies) with multiple locations since 2017, is an importantstep forward for SDN applications. SD WAN offers the followingadvantages compared with conventional technologies:
▸Simple integration of applications run via the cloud
▸Fast, straightforward and secure location connectivity
▸The service can run on any already availableconnectivity
‘Technology and Innovation’
▸LTE coverage of 80 % in the A1
Telekom Austria Group
▸Coverage of over 60 % of Austrian householdswith a bandwidth of at least 40 Mbps on a purefixed-line network (former product logic:coverage of 70 % with 30 Mbps)
▸Identification and promotion of marketableinnovations, for example via start-up initiatives
2) Baseline for targets is 2015.
1)Energy efficiency is defined as electricity per terabyte of transferred data volume
The A1 Telekom Austria Group’s objective is tobecome the first point of contact and key partnerfor the digital transformation of companies in or-der to unlock new potential in digital services,such as cloud and ICT solutions. Digital commu-nications solutions are encompassing an in-creasing number of areas of life — including inthe residential business. Here, the focus lies onservices for entire households and convergentproduct bundles that include, for instance, smarthome, TV and music streaming services andcloud solutions. In addition to the virtualisationof the network infrastructure, services are alsobeing embedded in a virtualised, cloud-basedinfrastructure. This allows for significantly moreefficient operating processes at lower costs andquicker launches of new services, thus offeringan ideal platform for competitive innovations.
▸University of Technology of Vienna, Sofia,Zagreb, Belgrad
Technologies for Substainable Mobility
▸Christian-Doppler-Laboratory for DependableWireless Connectivity for the Society in Motion
▸Josef Ressel Center for User-friendly
Secure Mobile Environments.
▸Brno University of Technology with a focus onthe smart meter, IoT and smart home
In 2017, the A1 Telekom Austria Group mobilisedthe innovation potential of its employees with anintrapreneurship programme. Three businessideas focusing on digitalisation were selected forimplementation from a total of 65 projects. Theprojects will run for a year with the aim ofimplementing their ideas and concepts withinthe organisation, once they have reached acertain maturity.
Enormous growth rates in data volumes transmitted are all part and parcel ofadvancing digitalisation. The A1 Telekom Austria Group makes sure that itscustomers are on the safe side as they make the most of the associatedopportunities and potential of digitalisation.
A1 Telekom Austria Group
data protection certifications
▸ECO Datacenter 3.0
Republic of Macedonia
All companies of the A1 Telekom Austria Group undertake to comply with the moststringent data protection and data security standards. In addition to any legal re-quirements applicable in the respective countries, all subsidiaries are also boundby any data security standards created for this purpose as well as all other coun-try-specific directives on data security and data protection. A1 in Austria, for in-stance, has a range of certifications including ISO 27001, ISAE 3402 and ECODatacenter 3.0, which attest to these high security standards. At A1 in Austria,the Data Privacy department has been responsible for compliance with legal andinternal data protection provisions for a number of years now. The position ofdata officer has also been created within the A1 Telekom Austria Group in re-sponse to the broader requirements for companies imposed by the General DataProtection Regulation of the European Union.
Harmonisation of data protection
This General Data Protection Regulation is currently posing a considerable chal-lenge, and will continue to do so in the years ahead. The EU decision taken in May2016 sought to harmonise data protection law throughout the European Unionand subject it to a set of largely standardised rules. Protection of personal data isat the core of the regulation with objectives such as giving affected people morecontrol over their data, making extensive information available on how this data isused, ensuring better protection for children and making it easier to access legalprotection. The EU General Data Protection Regulation will enter into force on 25May 2018, and ever since 2016 the A1 Telekom Austria Group has been workingto gradually enact it in the countries covered by the regulation. ▬