Sustainable alignment of the digital transformation

Within its own framework and as an ideal digitalization partner, A1 Telekom Austria Group is committed to sustainable progress in the areas of business, the environment, and society.

In almost every sector of the economy, the digital transformation of Industry 4.0 is opening up a wealth of completely new, smart business models, and thus enor- mous economic and development opportunities as well. However, it is just as im- portant at a social and ecological level: Just think about equal access to informa- tion, education, and knowledge, or the potential for conserving physical re- sources through digitalization. In keeping with its common purpose of “Empower- ing digital life”, the A1 Telekom Austria Group has long since gone from being a provider of just infrastructure, connectivity and bandwidth to becoming a holistic digitalization pioneer and companion.

Parallel to this, to ensure that the opportunities and potential of digitalization within society are available to as many people as possible, it is also specifically promoting the competent and secure use of digital media. A1 Telekom Austria Group also takes steps to ensure that its infrastructure roll-out, operation, main- tenance and dismantling activities are as sustainable as possible. The Group is helping to harness the potential of ICT to mitigate climate change: According to a study by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative 1), the use of ICT can reduce global CO₂ emissions by 20 % by 2030.

Systematic management of the

sustainability agenda

The A1 Telekom Austria Group first implemented a group-wide, integrated sustain- ability management system in 2010. The group-wide sustainability strategy was derived from a materiality analysis (see “Vision and Strategy”). Responsibility for coordinating and managing sustainability initiatives lies with the Corporate Sus- tainability department. As part of the Group Communications & Sustainability divi- sion, it reports directly to the CEO Thomas Arnoldner and coordinates the imple- mentation of the sustainability strategy with those in charge in the countries where the Group operates.

A1 Internet for All promotes “digital fitness” and equal opportunities

According to studies such as the 2016 Global Information Technology Report by Strategy&, a rising level of digitalization is associated with a higher gross domes- tic product, a lower unemployment rate and increased innovation. In light of this, “digital fitness” plays a central role at a social and individual level.

The A1 Telekom Austria Group is therefore specifically promoting the develop- ment of the knowledge and skills that are key to equal opportunities in leveraging the potential of digitalization with its group-wide “A1 Internet for All” initiative in the form of free workshops. The first media literacy initiative of this kind was es- tablished in Austria back in 2011, and since then similar projects and initiatives have been rolled out in the countries where the Group operates.

The A1 Telekom Austria Group’s goal was to train 150,000 participants in various workshops for children, young people, adults and seniors by 2018. The focus for the target group of children and young people is on them learning early on to help shape the digital world rather than just consuming it. Some of the content of these workshops is also made available to educators as training materials. As part of the initiative in Austria, parents can take part in information evenings to learn about children’s Internet habits and how to protect them from the potential dangers. Training for seniors focuses on breaking down access barriers and en- couraging experimentation. Modular courses, practical examples for everyday digital life and tips on how to use digital media properly help to get senior citizens online. Security aspects are included in all workshops for all target groups. By the end of 2018, there were more than 180,000 participations in media literacy training, surpassing the Group’s target.

According to the 2018 scientific evaluation by the Vienna University of Economics and Business’ NPO Institute, A1 is making a significant contribution towards closing the “digital gap” in Austria.

Products with social value added

Finally, socially disadvantaged people or people with physical disabilities can also benefit from digitalization in their day-to-day lives. New information and communication technologies can, for example, help the blind or the severely vi- sually impaired integrate into the general education system without having to use braille. A1 in Croatia also offers visually impaired people mobile phones with larg- er displays or simplified menu navigation. In turn, SMS and chat messages bene- fit deaf people. The subsidiary in Belarus therefore offers a special reduced tariff for people with impaired hearing.

In a society where people are getting older and older, health naturally plays an essential role. e-health solutions are the future of the healthcare system in many areas. In Austria, A1 already enables a “Medical Data Network” and provides in- frastructure for large parts of the Austrian e-card system. The “Medical Data Net- work” connects doctors, hospitals, laboratories and other health care institutions with each other. The multimedia hospital bed, also known as the “e-care termi- nal”, adds variety to a hospital stay with several services and assists in nursing staff’s work processes.

Positive potential of digitalization in environmental protection

In a study 2) on this subject, the Global e-Sustainability Initiative reports that in- formation and communication technologies (ICT) have the potential to separate economic growth from increases in global emissions. At telecommunications companies, CO₂ emissions are generated by vehicle fleets, heating and air condi- tioning, but above all by the power requirements of their networks. In this context, the A1 Telekom Austria Group has set itself the goal of reducing its CO₂ emissions by 25 % by 2020 3).

Ensuring that the dynamic increase in data volume as a result of digitalization does not result in comparatively more energy demand and CO₂ requires energy- efficiency-enhancing measures (see “Technology and Innovation”). Furthermore, the A1 Telekom Austria Group is striving to meet its power demands as sustain- ably as possible. It does this by using electricity from renewable sources, such as solar, hydro, and wind: 62 % of the A1 Telekom Austria Group’s electricity require- ments were generated from renewable energy sources in 2018. The A1 Telekom Austria Group also operates two large photovoltaic farms of its own: one in Aflenz, Austria since 2013 that produces more than 252,000 kWh of electricity per year and one in Belarus since 2016 that produces more than 252 million kWh.

In 2018, A1 Telekom Austria Group employees drove around 105 million kilome- ters in approximately 5,100 vehicles – mainly for maintenance and network roll- out, quality assurance and customer service. The Group has the same ambition here as it does for electricity: the utmost possible efficiency. The first step is to reduce the number of kilometers travelled. This is achieved with innovative logis- tics concepts, videoconferences and digital solutions for collaboration (see Employees”). The second step is to use sustainable propulsion models such as gas, hybrid, or electric vehicles. Taking into account the effects of acquisitions carried out in the interim, the A1 Telekom Austria Group did not come closer to its goal of reducing CO₂ emissions by 25 % from 2012 to 2020 (2018: +11 %).

Digitalization helps to conserve internal resources as well

The A1 Telekom Austria Group aimed to reduce its paper consumption by 10 % between 2016 and 2018. The digitalization of internal work processes plays an important part in this. In Field Service, for example, in addition to digital logbooks for drivers, plans and assembly orders are increasingly being processed digitally. This saves around 100,000 sheets of paper per year in Austria alone. Besides the digitalization of internal work processes and the acquisition of follow-me printers, internal campaigns raise environmental awareness of employees and actively get them involved in green activities. The goal of cutting paper consumption by 10 % was substantially overachieved with a reduction of 46 %.

The A1 Telekom Austria Group also contributes to conserving resources by recycling mobile phones – even though the Group itself does not manufacture mobile devices. Most of their subsidiaries offer their customers the opportunity to return old devices free of charge, and some have even been doing this since 2004. Between 70 % and 80 % of the contents of these old devices can be recycled and reused as raw materials by specialist recyclers to whom they are passed on. In Austria, for example, 100 % of the proceeds from mobile phone recycling go towards climate protection projects. In 2018 alone, the Group as a whole ensured the proper recycling of 80,000 devices. In addition, some subsidiaries also reuse devices that have been returned to them and that are still functional and technologically current – after deleting all data, thoroughly testing them for technical functionality and cleaning them.

Quality, security, and ecological value added

Via its Housing Services, the A1 Telekom Austria Group handles the operation and maintenance of customers’ IT equipment. The quality and standards of its data centers guarantee the highest possible level of security. The same is true for hosting services, where the server infrastructure is outsourced to a data center. The outsourcing of infrastructure allows for electricity to be used more efficiently and CO2 emissions to be reduced to a minimum. Integrated communication solu- tions such as video conferencing or chats also make communication with cus- tomers and partners more efficient and environmentally friendly. Furthermore, A1 operates its network on a 100 % carbon neutral basis in Austria, thereby reducing not just the company’s own CO2 emissions but those of its customers as well. Services such as those provided by the affiliate A1 Digital (see “Technology and Innovation”) also help to reduce the ecological footprint.

1) GeSi, SMARTer2030 (2015)

“A1 Internet for All” is helping various target groups such as children, young people, adults and seniors to actively participate in, and personally benefit from, the digital transformation that is increasingly spreading to new areas of the economy and society. As the latest milestone in this group-wide initiative, the Macedonian subsidiary launched a media literacy initiative in February 2018 for children with the aim of teaching them how to use the Internet safely and educating them about potential dangers of social networks. The workshops were held in two languages – Macedonian and Albanian.

Digital transformation & social sustainability

Certified environmental management systems


EMAS (since 2013)

ISO 50001 for energy management

(since 2008)

ISO 14001 for energy management

(since 2004)


EMAS (since 2014)

ISO 14001 (since 2009)

Republic of Serbia

ISO 14001 (since 2015)

Republic of Macedonia

ISO 14001 (since 2016)

2) GeSi, SMARTer2030 (2015).

3) Baseline: 2012.

Photovoltaics at the Vienna Arsenal

In 2018, the Austrian subsidiary ex- panded its photovoltaic systems at the A1 Technology Center located in Vien- na Arsenal. A further 312 solar mod- ules were installed on around 516 m2. The electricity they produce is used to operate the data center and the cen- tral switching technology for fixed and mobile networks among other facili- ties. An output of around 94 kWp is estimated at peak operation. The amount of electricity produced per year is expected to be around 90,000 kWh – the equivalent of the electricity requirement of around 25 single-fami- ly homes. The expansion of the photo- voltaic system was partially financed from the proceeds of the mobile phone recycling initiative.


Sustainability goals 2016–2018

As part of its sustainability strategy, the A1 Telekom Austria Group had set itself sustainabili- ty goals for 2018 in four action areas (see “Vision and Strategy”). Its achievement of these goals is shown below. New goals for the period from 2019 to 2021 will be published on the website in the course of financial year 2019.

Technology & Innovation


LTE network coverage of 80 % in the A1 Telekom Austria Group (achieved)

Coverage of around 60 % of Austrian households with a bandwidth of at least 40 Mbit/s with a pure fixed network infrastructure (achieved)

Identification and promotion of marketable innovations, e. g. through start-up initiatives (achieved)



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

Reaching a constant recycling rate of 70 % (not achieved)

Reducing in-house paper consumption

by 10 % (achieved)



38 % women in management positions

(not achieved)

Anchoring of flexible work arrangements (achieved)

Creating framework conditions for the promotion of constant learning (achieved)



150,000 participants in media literacy training (achieved)5)

Promotion of social projects according to local requirements (achieved)

4) Basis: 2015.

5) Cumulative figure since 2011.