Deutsche Telekom (DT) Expands its Presence in Silicon Valley: 4 Focus Areas Indentified

This article was written by Louis Schreier,VP, Portfolio Development and Technology, Products & Innovation, T-Labs US.  The article was edited by Alan J Weissberger.

Having established an Industrial R&D Lab in Palo Alto in 2008, Deutsche Telekom’s (DT) T-Labs has expanded its mission in the Silicon Valley.  T-Labs already has ties to Stanford, UC- Berkeley, UC-Santa Cruz, UIUC, U Michigan and other universities.  The Labs is expanding its activities to focus on four key initiatives:

1.  Transforming its academic and industrially oriented R&D into innovative products;
2.  The integration of start-up technologies into DT’s and T-Mobile’s networks, as well as DT’s Data Centers;
3.  The incubation of promising technologies to the mutual benefit of both the startups and DT; and
4.  Creating open interfaces and APIs that enable 3rd party applications and services to take advantage of Deutsche Telekom and partner networks for consumer oriented applications as well as for B2B, B2C, and B2B2X development.

T-Labs Advanced Technology & Development Center’s internal R&D activities and charter includes Advanced Network Infrastructure, Media and Cloud-based Services, Mobile Client Ecosystem, the Development of Enabling Platforms and APIs, and Technology Integration and Incubation. Within this broad umbrella, T-Labs ATDC is pursuing several areas, including:

-Software Defined Networks (SDN);
-Android-based services and applications for mobile clients.  These include: home, health and fitness, and location-based services;
-Sensor networks and communication supporting geophysical as well as device and connected device applications;
-Media including multi-device and multi-screen video clients; and
-Cloud-based services including video conferencing and telephony services for SMBs.

Here’s a brief overview of a few of T-Labs Advanced Development Center’s activities.

1. Advanced Networking:  Although the trend for Telecommunication Operators is increasingly toward upper layer applications and services, DT and T-Labs Advanced Development Center (T-Labs ATDC) have been at the forefront in developing advanced network architectures and capabilities. As an integral part of the Clean Slate, Software Defined Networking initiative, T-Labs ATDC worked together with Stanford University.  Two T-Labs ATDC Research Scientists collaborated with and contributed to the OpenFlow specification and 1.0 reference implementation.

OpenFlow physically splits the data plane from the control plane, thereby flattening the network.  This allows flow-based monitoring and management of network traffic, which results in better network utilization of resources and more efficient control traffic distribution and dynamic migration. Commercial versions of the OpenFlow stack have been implemented by network equipment vendors, such as NEC, Juniper, and HP among others.  Nicira, and BigSwitch have implemented commercial versions of the OpenFlow controller.

The use of OpenFlow and services on-top of the OpenFlow stack in campus networks and data centers will simplify network complexity at the traffic aggregation and access network layers (L2/L3).  By splitting the control and data planes and employing less expensive hardware at the forwarding/routing layer, OpenFlow also shows promise in reducing capital and operating expenses. T-Labs ATDC is developing data center services on top of OpenFlow that support network advanced monitoring and management.

2. Mobile applications and location-based services: This example combines machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, on-board device management, and location-based services. T-Labs ATDC, together with UC Berkeley, are developing the capability to turn smart phones into a vast sensor network.  It will have the ability to detect and communicate on-board sensor states to networked servers which will provide advanced analysis to earthquake detection and alerting networks.

UC Berkeley’s focus on iOS-based devices and T-Labs ATDC focus on Android-based devices, provides the largest possible set of smart phone devices for this purpose.  The result is a mobile sensor network with the ability to contribute, in a quantifiable way, to a detection event and thereby build a picture of an earthquake’s distribution and path of direction. This is possible because the speed at which an earthquake travels is much slower than the speed of Internet communications.

If a monitoring system could shave tens of seconds to a minute off public alerts, it would provide those in the path of the earthquake and first responders key event and location-based information.  Consequently, first responders could more effectively marshal their response, and potential victims could likewise seek safety. In reality, this application is anything but simple. It involves device and communication management, on-board and server-side analytics to deduplicate, disambiguate, recognize patterns, and validate signals across potentially millions of devices communicating events in real time, in near real time.  Although this application may never be material to DT’s bottom line, its important because it serves the public good.

3.  Cloud-based business services: A final example of work T-Labs ATDC is engaged in is cloud services for SMBs. We’re currently working with two startups and the open source community to develop cloud based communication services for SMBs.  These include: conferencing, advanced PBX and telephony, as well as multiplatform videophone services.

The goal of this activity is to create advanced, and branded, services for our business customers throughout Europe, by taking advantage of innovation and open source software and services in Silicon Valley (and elsewhere). At the same time, the startups with whom we’re working are pursuing other markets and customers through their own channels and business development activities.

In this activity, T-Labs ATDC provides integration support for the core technologies as well as access to DT resources that would be difficult to obtain at so early a stage. Our goal is to provide an opportunity for DT to extend its existing consumer and business portfolio with advanced applications and services and, at the same time, provide start-ups with entry into the European Markets.

It’s important to note that when T-Labs ATDC works with startups, including those for which we provide venture funding, it’s done in a non-exclusive relationship. As a result, everyone wins!

In addition to the above development activities above our charter includes: Software Defined Networking, Middleware and Enabling platforms, OTT media, Cloud-based services for both consumers and businesses, Home technology, including home-hubs, and entertainment, Integration and Incubation.

While T-Labs Advanced Development Center is focused on building and leveraging our own resources and relationships in the valley, we’re international, and collaborate with our Innovation Labs colleagues in Germany, Israel, and our Business Unit partners in Germany and the US.

Summing up, T-Labs Advanced Development Center’s activity and collaboration with startups in the Bay Area has been ongoing for several years. Deutsche Telekom also has Venture Capital, Business Development and Strategic Partnering activities in Silicon Valley as well.

EDITORS NOTE: T-Labs will be co-sponsoring the IEEE ComSocSCV Oct 12 meeting on Cloud Networking along with Juniper Networks.   Representatives from Savvis/Century Link, Juniper, and Arista Networks will be presenting their perspective and opinons about the network that must deliver cloud compute and storage services.

Meeting information and RSVP at:


  • Michael Cowburn, Sr. Solutions Architect, Savvis
  • Omar Smith, Network Solutions Architect, Savvis
  • Anshul Sadana, VP Customer Engineering, Arista Networks
  • Colin Constable, VP/CTO Strategic Alliances, Juniper Networks

Session Organizer

Alan J Weissberger, IEEE ComsocSCV Chair and Manager of ComSoc Community web site

Session Chair

MP Divakar, IEEE ComsocSCV Secretary