The Internet and applications building upon it represent an important - perhaps the most important - basis for economic growth and social progress. Therefore, A1 Telekom Austria Group sees it as ist responsibility to not only accelerate the expansion of its broadband infrastructure but also to reduce the "digital divide" and to promote competent and safe Internet use by means of targeted measures.
According to a 2017 estimate by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), some 3.9 billion people around the world currently lack Internet access. The countries in which A1 Telekom Austria Group operates also experience huge differences in usage. While 15.7 % of Austria's households are not using the Internet and thus lack the same degree of access to comprehensive knowledge and educational content. In Bulgaria 40.2 %, 28.9 % in Belarus or 32.9 % in the Republic of Serbia have never been "online" in 2017. People of advanced age, of low socio-economic status, those living in rural areas and women, in particular, are disadvantaged when it comes to using the Internet as a source of information and communication.
A1 Telekom Austria Group started the media literacy initiative "A1 Internet for All" in Austria in 2011 and until 2014 rolled it out in similar projects and initiatives in all the Group's countries. In the framework of free Internet usage trainings, participants acquire the competence required to actively take part in social life in the digital age.
The founding of the Austria-wide initiative "A1 Internet for All" in 2011 marked the starting signal for this Group-wide initiative. using free media competence trainings, more than 130,000 participants could be reached in the course of some 10,000 workshops in six years (as of year-end 2017).
These Internet workshops are held at three permanent locations in Vienna, Klagenfurt, Salzburg and Linz as well as at social insitutions and "on tour" all over Austria. The course offerings include some 30 different classes: From entry-level workshops like "How to read with a computer mouse" for the little ones to "Using the Internet on a tablet or smart phone" for seniors. Complementary workshops for teachers and informational events for parents and grandparents are held additionally. A positive and safe introduction into the digital world is the basis for the further successful consolidation.
The initiative "A1 Internet for All" collaborates with more than 30 partners from the educational and social sector. Furthermore, the programme is supported by more than 4,000 A1 employees, from the CEO to apprentices, have provided help and support in this trainings so far.
To make sure this contribution to bridging the digital divide in Austria can be measured, the initiative is scientifically evaluated by Vienna University for Economcs and Business Administration's NPO Competence Centre. The NPO Competence Centre confirms that, with its media competence initiative "A1 Internet for All", A1 has contributed significantly to bridging the digital divide in Austria.
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In 2014, A1 in Bulgaria joined the group-wide initiative "A1 Internet for All" and has been running workshops on safe internet use for children and adults since. A corporate volunteering program supports the lectures.
Brochures - supporting the initiative - show that parents and children learn from each other in the dynamic digital life.
Likewise, workshops for parents of employees were held. Here, the focus was on older Internet beginners.
Until the end of 2017 more than 5,500 children and seniors took part in different workshops and lectures.
In partnership with Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Croatian susbsidiary actively participated in the EU co-funded project “Safer Internet Center Croatia: Making Internet a good and safe place”. The project’s main goal was to inform children, parents and a broader community about the better and safer use of the Internet as well as related potential dangers.
Therefore, 40 volunteers held a series of free Media Literacy workshops for elderly, as well as free workshops for children on Internet safety. Elderly participants were taught about e-mail, spam detection, Microsoft Office, Skype and other useful tools. Children gained new insights into the opportunities and dangers of social networks.
Slovenia A1 also makes it possible for people to take part in the digital world with equal opportunities. It thereby focusses on senior citizens. A dedicated concept on Media Literacy trainings was developed in corporation with the University of Maribor and implemented into the workshop series “Senior Hours” and “A1 Slovenija Data Hours”.
Involving employees significantly contributes to the workshop's quality. Thanks to excellent supervisory relationships, the participating seniors are given the chance to digitally educate themselves at their own speed and in a way tailored to their own requirements. More than 7,000 participants have been reached with the initiative since 2013 (as of year-end 2017).
The subsidiary of the Republic of Serbia has made its goal to make it easier for their population to enter the digital world and to improve their competences in the use of new technologies.
Since the launch of mobile points of sales in rural areas, digital workshops were introduced and held at the same premises. Corporate volunteers taught in several workshops the participants the basics of using smartphones and computers. In this way, even in distant rural areas people were able to gain knowledge about new technologies.
Being "digital natives", today's children and adolescents regard mobile phones and the Internet as matter-of-fact part of their daily lives. That's why - also in the Republic of Macedonia - a lot of attention is given to safe Internet use by children.
For this reason, the subsidiary of the Republic of Macedonia is organizing workshops to educate young people how to protect their personal data, focusing on the safe and competent use of the Internet and meaningful use of social media. Since the beginning of the initiative in 2013, around 500 children were able to increase their know-how surrounding the Internet and are now on the path to becoming Internet experts (as of year-end 2017).