Innovations can be produced everywhere. That is why it is important to ensure we pursue our innovation activities at an intragroup level and that they are aligned with our strategy. Our interconnected innovation areas provide a holistic, Group-wide framework for this. In the reporting year, we continued to hone our innovation priorities in close coordination with the operating segments, building on our activities in 2020:
- Connectivity: We are developing our router operating system for the digital future – with enhanced cloud-based connectivity management and service quality, a superior customer experience and standardized operation via app, PC, or television, and value-added applications such as child protection functions, home security, predictive maintenance, and troubleshooting. This new router generation is based on a globally scalable reference system (Reference Design Kit, RDK), which we are constantly fine-tuning together with other leading telecommunications providers. We began an initial, very promising pilot for beta users in Hungary in the reporting year, and are planning the market launch there for 2022, alongside further applications and prototypes in Germany, Croatia, Greece, and North Macedonia. A core element of connectivity management is the home-network check software feature, which was introduced in 2021 both in service apps in Germany such as MeinMagenta and via the TV interface, and which provides for new, context-based customer interaction to optimize service and troubleshoot problems in home networks.
- Smart home: We began cloudifying our smart home offerings in 2019 and continue to refine them, with the aim of making the ecosystem future-proof. A key component is the cloud-based MagentaZuhause app, which was launched in September 2021 for beta users. The app integrates every connected household device and enables personalized use by every member of the household. The focus is on developing software-based entry-level applications for users of a suitable Deutsche Telekom router.
- Service orchestration in the connected home: We want to improve the customer experience at home by ensuring the easy, seamless, uniform, uncomplicated interaction of all Deutsche Telekom’s services and devices, and by enabling services from selected partners. We are doing this on the basis of the Magenta HomeOS orchestration platform, which has been developed by Deutsche Telekom. The platform bundles our various services, creating unique customer experiences. The MagentaZuhause TV app, which was launched on the market in December 2021, is the first customer touchpoint to use the HomeOS platform. The app, which combines television, smart home, router management, MagentaCloud, and voice control, is available to more than 3.5 million households in Germany. The launch of the MagentaZuhause mobile app is planned for February 2022.
- Magenta Voice: With smart voice control (also known as voicification), we want to further enhance the way our customers experience our services, and to simplify interaction with technology and devices. To achieve this, we are constantly evolving our voice platform, winning over new partners, and integrating voice control into numerous additional products and services such as television, smart home, and the MeinMagenta app, with the aim of offering our customers a comprehensive convergent application space. Ongoing functionality enhancements have resulted in rising customer usage and satisfaction levels. In parallel, we are pushing forward with B2B solutions. Some examples of this are a scheduling assistant for business customers and voice recognition for authentication and personalization.
- Campus networks: Campus networks for corporate customers are one of the core applications for 5G technology. Campus networks combine dedicated mobile connectivity with edge computing and integrated digital applications from the fields of production, automation, and logistics, enhancing options to automate production and achieve stability and flexibility in industry. In the reporting year, we rounded out our campus portfolio with standalone and hybrid solutions, and attracted further key anchor customers. In the reporting year, Deutsche Telekom was named best mobile network operator for 5G enterprise offerings from among 20 telecommunications providers listed in an international study published by ABI Research. 5G-supported positioning solutions in production, which can log and locate factory objects and autonomous devices in real time using ultra-wideband (UWB) technology with a precision of up to 30 cm, are additional vertical solutions that complement campus networks.
- Network differentiation: In this innovation program, we are working on developments to disaggregate, cloudify, and automate our network production. This new approach will both improve customer experience considerably and increase flexibility and scalability, while simultaneously lowering costs. We will achieve this with software solutions for automated analysis and with error correction based on artificial intelligence and machine learning, among other things. In addition, our multi-vendor strategy serves to strengthen our independence from individual suppliers and enables us to maintain our technology leadership. We are also opening up new options for direct monetization of the network, for example through network APIs. Leading network operators have joined forces in the O-RAN Alliance to pursue a standard for a vendor-agnostic, modular, Open Radio Access Network and to work with other partners to develop the associated hardware and software components. In the reporting year, Deutsche Telekom successfully brought online Europe’s first model network for Open RAN, including massive Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO), in Neubrandenburg, Germany. In the Open Test & Integration Center (OTIC) in Berlin, start-ups, suppliers, operators, and systems integrators can test out how new components interact with mobile networks.
- Standalone 5G: Up to now, Deutsche Telekom has used 5G non-standalone (5G NSA) in which the existing 4G network continues to provide the technical backbone. True to its role as a technology leader, in the reporting year Deutsche Telekom commissioned its first site for 5G standalone (5G SA) in Garching, near Munich, Germany. The 5G radio access network is integrated with the new 5G core network at the location. This core network is the source of the crucial innovations and benefits, because it removes the need for terminal devices to connect to the 4G and 5G networks in parallel. The 5G core network is based on cloudified, virtualized hardware and software, which will enable new applications such as network slicing. Network slices are discrete logical networks with individual, application-specific characteristics such as bandwidth, latency or capacity, which are created on the same shared physical infrastructure. They allow applications always to be made available specifically for the appropriate (virtual) network, thus improving the customer experience. Network slices could therefore be used, for example, for applications where bandwidth and latency are critical, such as augmented/virtual reality; for communication among authorities where security is critical; or for secure, high-availability applications for business customers. In the reporting year, Deutsche Telekom, together with its partners, became the first network operator in the world to demonstrate the benefits of network slicing for a gaming app on a commercial smartphone. Actively controlling performance parameters in line with the different requirements was also successfully tested for 5G network slicing via a network API.
- AI One Conversation: By integrating artificial intelligence, we will ensure that our products and services remain competitive into the future. The focus of our activities in the reporting year was on scaling up our AI-based Frag Magenta digital assistants for chat and telephone. The aim of these digital assistants is to further personalize all customer interactions across all points of contact. In November 2021, German computer magazine Computer Bild and market statistics company Statista named our Frag Magenta chatbot the best chatbot by a German telecommunications provider for 2022. We also continue to personalize our marketing and sales activities so as to be able to offer our customers tailored solutions that are based on our previous interactions with them.
- Big Data & AI: This is an innovation area in which we are driving the implementation of Group-wide principles for data processing and analytics. Our uniform data model will enhance our data analysis and enable us to easily transpose successful applications to new markets and countries using cloud-based deployment architecture. As the privacy and integrity of our customers’ data is our top priority, customer and network data remain with the relevant national companies. Dozens of use cases for data processing, analysis, and quality have been tested in eight of our national companies and have been scaled up within the Group.
- Sustainable Telco: Our newest innovation area is devoted to making the telecommunications industry more sustainable. Currently, the main focus is on energy-optimized dynamic network production and the resource-efficient design of products and services. The reporting year saw successful prototypes and tests for AI-based, smart energy management in the mobile network and for decentralized production of renewable energy such as hybrid solar and wind power and hydrogen-based fuel cells.