Steering a sustainable course

We seek to benefit both individuals and societies in the regions in which we work, says Telekom Austria Group chief executive Hannes Ametsreiter


Understanding that the positive effect of good corporate governance ultimately results in a strengthened economy, Telekom Austria Group appreciates how important it is for the supervisory board, the directors and the management team to develop a model of governance that aligns the values of all corporate stakeholders, which then is evaluated periodically for its effectiveness.

The Austrian Corporate Governance Code has created the framework for the sustainable management of the Telekom Austria Group since 2003 when the firm voluntarily committed itself to complying with the Code. In January 2010, a revised and updated version of the Code was published, with the most significant changes occurring in the field of the remuneration of the Board of Directors and other executives.

Several provisions of the Code were also adjusted to comply with amendments to the Stock Corporation Act 2009. Thanks to its participation in the Austrian Working Group for Corporate Governance, Telekom Austria Group has been involved in the further development of the standards of corporate governance. In addition, the company has also implemented further corporate governance instruments such as an effective risk management system or the Code of Conduct.

The fundamental pillars of compliance management at Telekom Austria Group encompass the following:

i) The explicit and binding commitment to responsible action in the corporate values of the Group.
ii) The country-specific further development and consolidation of the group-wide behaviour guidelines and standards as set out in the company’s code of conduct.
iii) The monitoring of compliance with the relevant laws and regulations by means of management and process controls within the group-wide internal control system.
iv) The risk-oriented auditing activities of the Internal Audit department, and comprehensive risk-specific training measures at all important group companies.
v) Group-wide compliance organisation to enhance and monitor compliance instruments and strengthen comlpliance culture.

CSR strategy
Inextricably linked to the execution of sound corporate governance is the company’s CSR strategy. Core to this strategy is Telekom Austria Group’s prime strategic objective of achieving steady and sustainable increase in shareholder value, as opposed to expansion at any price. The Group looks to take forward-looking action to ensure the company’s healthy development in the long-term. Its CSR understanding is based on the triple-bottom line (people, planet and profit) with the core business infrastructure being the “glue” that binds these three pillars. The Group seeks to benefit both individuals and societies, including customers and staff, as well as all other stakeholders in the regions in which it operates.

In line with responsible corporate management, value-oriented growth also takes into account regional conditions, environmental and social aspects.

Telekom Austria Group’s CSR process was introduced in 2009 and has culminated in the reorganisation of the strategic sustainability activities and the implementation of a CSR management system on a Group level with the aim of putting in place structures that will anchor sustainability even more strongly within the company.

The responsibilities of the newly-created CSR Board, which comprises first-level managers from the relevant departments, include:

– Discussing and further developing the most important sustainability topics.
– Making strategic decisions regarding the direction sustainability should take.
– Taking responsibility for sustainability in their own departments, and;
– Adopting the annual CSR programme.

The Board is supported by the CSR core team, which is responsible for developing the annual CSR programme and defining key areas in the field of sustainability. The team also gathers ideas from within and outside the company, launches initiatives and identifies synergies between the projects, and is also responsible for evaluating the risks and challenges of CSR-relevant topics. Planning is currently underway to install local CSR structures at the foreign affiliates of the Telekom Austria Group.

The newly established CSR department is responsible for CSR management and the further development of the CSR process at Group level. It is also the relevant interface to all Telekom Austria Group companies and sets the strategic direction. Individual activities are the responsibility of the respective companies and are geared to regional regulations and requirements.

As part of the CSR process, all CSR initiatives and projects were assessed and evaluated in terms of the challenges and opportunities they present to the company and the industry. In addition to detailed benchmarking procedures, the process involved taking into account the analysis provided by ratings agencies and respecting the interests of both internal and external stakeholders, before defining key areas for the Group.

Energy efficiency
Telekom Austria Group operates a Group-wide environmental policy that ensures that it is committed to innovative and efficient energy management, the reduction of CO2 emissions and the increased use of renewable-energy sources. It aims to contribute to the low carbon economy, one which reduces CO2 in order to prevent a dramatic climate change. The company drives innovative projects in the field of e-mobility and smart grids, also entering new fields of business.

The International Energy Agency predicts that global energy demand will double by 2020 due to the need in industrialised countries for rising volumes of data, the rapid upgrading of telecoms infrastructure and increasing broadband penetration, as well as the growing use of modern technologies in emerging markets. The ICT industry therefore needs to sustainably curb energy consumption in all areas.

A1 Telekom Austria – the Austrian operation which was formed in July 2010 as a result of the merger between Telekom Austria (Fixed Net) and mobilkom austria − has embarked on a number of projects that have as their aim the reduction of CO2 emissions. In 2009 A1 Telekom Austria became an industry pioneer when it joined the WWF Climate Group, committing itself to reducing its emissions of CO2 by at least 15 percent or 15,000 tons within the next three years. This target has already been exceeded. By the end of 2009, emissions of CO2 had been reduced by approximately 40 percent to 47,781 tons compared to 80,591 tons in 2008. This is equivalent to the amount of CO2 caused by 3,300 Austrian citizens each year.

A1 Telekom Austria has implemented a pilot project “A1 Energieeffizienz” that is reducing the energy consumption and CO2 emissions of base stations by intelligently managing its resources. Network capacity is adjusted to the volume of traffic carried over the network with no negative impact on network quality. Resources that are not required – complete base stations or parts of them – are temporarily deactivated. The company is already successfully using this energy-saving mode at 303 sites in Vienna and the concept will be rolled out throughout Austria by the end of 2010.

This will make it possible to operate approximately 1,000 sites energy-efficiently, cutting consumption by 10 percent and producing total savings of 438 tonnes of CO2 or 1.2 GWh.

In early 2009 mobilkom austria launched pilot operations with a wind-powered base station, with the aim of wind power supplying up to 80 percent of the total energy requirement. The plan is now to open other such stations by the end of 2010. A further trial that uses alternative sources of energy integrates photovoltaic cells at base stations.

Embracing technology
Further steps to embrace renewable energy have been taken across Telekom Austria Group’s portfolio. Its Croatian subsidiary, Vipnet, uses solar energy to power a number of base stations and the company’s Vip operator in Macedonia is working on developing a solar power project. Telekom Austria (Fixed Net) and Si.mobil are both certified in accordance with ISO 14001 while mobilkom austria has been certified by the Ökoprofit program. In addition, in 2008, Telekom Austria (Fixed Net) became the first company in Austria to receive certification for its energy management system according to the new Austrian Standard ÖNORM EN 16001. Mobiltel has a system that is ready for certification while Vipnet and Vip mobile are on the point of receiving an ISO certification.

Telekom Austria (Fixed Net) has set itself the target of lowering the CO2 emissions generated by business travel by approximately 150 tons per annum. The use of the high-end video conference solution, Telepresence, is estimated to eliminate 25 percent of one-day business trips. This solution is available at eight company locations and involves participants sitting opposite one another with the ability to see each other in life size as if they were in the same room.

In addition, traditional video conferencing solutions, OCS clients and fixed line or mobile telephones can also be integrated. The use of the Telepresence system eliminates travelling time, and the amount of energy consumed as a result of business travel is significantly reduced.

In early 2010, Telekom Austria (Fixed Net) took into service the first prototype of a telephone booth with an integrated charging station. The charging stations model uses existing infrastructure and a convenient form of payment via mobile phone. By the end of 2010, a total of 30 charging stations should be on stream throughout Austria for e-cars, e-scooters and e-bicycles.

Going electronic
Following a campaign to promote online billing Telekom Austria (Fixed Net) increased the number of paperless customers in 2010 by 220,000 to 836,902. mobilkom austria supports the Greenpeace campaign “1,000,000 Good Deeds for Climate Protection” with information and references on its websites, with cost inquiries and online bill notifications. Together with its customers, mobilkom austria succeeded in saving 69 tons of CO2 by successively switching to online billing. Paper consumption was also reduced by nine million sheets last year. Vipnet and Si.mobil also offer their customers online billing.

In addition to Telekom Austria Group leading the way for the delivery of telecommunications systems across the CEE region, it is also leading the way to an enlightened business model with a progressive approach towards renewable energy.