The Telekom Austria Group concentrates its extensive research and development activities on the development of market-oriented products and services and the ongoing technological development of its network infrastructure in order to ensure that it is well-equipped for the increasingly stringent demands of the future, namely the need to provide ever-larger data volumes more quickly and ideally irrespective of location.
With Vipnet, Mtel, Vip mobile and Vip operator, the Telekom Austria Group is one of the first European operators to have successfully tested the network function virtualisation (NFV) technology — providing for the virtualisation and automation of network functions — in four field trials in Croatia, Bulgaria, the Republic of Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia. NFV technology makes the network more efficient and flexible, and hence represents a paradigm shift for the entire telecommunications industry. Occupying a leading position in this area is a key element of the Group’s innovation strategy.
In spring 2014, the Telekom Austria Group again demonstrated its innovative strength with a successful field trial of 400 Gbps high-speed technology between Zagreb and Ljubljana. In Austria, A1 Telekom Austria AG became the world’s first operator to demonstrate the ultra-broadband transmission technology G.fast in live operation. Data speeds of several hundred Mbps per household were achieved using existing copper wires in a 19th-century building. In other words, G.fast makes it possible to offer ultra-broadband services via the existing copper network.
Following the acquisition of the necessary frequencies, the expansion of the mobile network is clearly focused on LTE. Si.mobil already offers coverage of more than 75% in Slovenia, while A1 Telekom Austria AG offers coverage of more than 60% in Austria, Vip operator’s coverage in the Republic of Macedonia is in excess of 42%, and Vipnet in Croatia offers coverage of more than 27%. The LTE networks are not only being expanded, however — they are also evolving. In June 2014, A1 Telekom Austria AG became the first operator in Austria to test voice telephony over 4G/LTE in its live network as part of a Voice over LTE (VoLTE) trial. The subsidiaries Si.mobil and A1 Telekom Austria AG also made an important step in advancing the development of the fourth generation of mobile telecommunications technology towards LTE Advanced with the implementation of LTE carrier aggregation in selected conurbations in November 2014. Instead of the previous maximum of 150 Mbps, suitable devices can now achieve speeds of up to 300 Mbps. Following the launch of 4G/LTE roaming in Switzerland in late 2013, A1 Telekom Austria AG has expanded its roaming partnerships to include a total of 21 countries in recent months.
In the period under review, A1 Telekom Austria AG expanded its central business areas to include Managed IT and E-Health Solutions. In the area of Managed IT, A1 Telekom Austria AG is already the market leader for desktop outsourcing with more than 55,000 managed workstations. A1’s infotainment offering in the E-Health Solutions business area allows patients to access TV, radio, internet, telephone and medical records — the latter secured by using fingerprints.
Telekom Austria Group M2M realises M2M projects throughout the entire footprint of Telekom Austria Group. Starting from managed connectivity as the basic product, the range of services extends from complete solutions for asset tracking and fleet management in all countries of Telekom Austria Group via industrial automation through to smart metering. The connection of cash registers to the fiscal authorities in Bulgaria, Croatia and the Republic of Serbia was also successfully implemented. Activities in the area of smart metering are focused on Austria due to the national implementation of the EU legal framework, which requires the conversion of 95% of existing electricity meters to smart meters by 2019.
Thanks to the interconnection of its fibre footprint with América Móvil, the Telekom Austria Group can now offer its wholesale customers more than 200 points of presence (PoP) in 47 countries. The two companies are also cooperating in the area of voice services: with the interconnection in Miami, the Telekom Austria Group is one of the first operators to use the Latin America hub of América Móvil.
Through the cooperation with national and international institutions and application-based research partnerships with science and industry, Telekom Austria Group is pursuing different approaches for the integration of future information and communications technologies in order to allow it to permanently offer market and customer-oriented communications solutions. The Telekom Austria Group currently has research partnerships with the Research Centre for Telecommunications in Vienna, the Vienna University of Technology, the Christian Doppler Laboratory for Wireless Technologies for Sustainable Mobility, the Josef Ressel Centre for User-friendly Secure Mobile Environments and the Technical University of Sofia. Beyond its own sphere of action, A1 Telekom Austria AG also promotes innovation by new companies with a start-up initiative that provides expertise and infrastructure to help make innovations a reality. As part of the stakeholder process for the Smart Grids Austria technology platform, the Telekom Austria Group is also participating in the debate on the future introduction of smart power grids.