Larsen has a scientific background. He studied physics and mathematics and made his PHD in physics. After his studies he started a scientific career. First, he worked for some years as a postdoc research scientist in Belgium, later in Italy. At the end of the 1990s Larsen found his way to economy: he worked for Philips Research in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, for three years. Finally, he started to work in Den Haag, the Netherlands, for a greenfield mobile operator that then was taken over by Deutsche Telekom in 2000.

Targeting at economic efficiency

To some extent, this had also changed his work. His main area remained to be the analyses of the economic efficiency of new technologies and planned projects. Larsen also supported the technology strategy of the company. This included the planning of future networks and the relevant economic models.

“In my activities I concentrated on the potentials of certain technologies and the possibility of turning such potentials into a well-functioning business model,” he said. Through the high-quality research he conducted for the Deutsche Telekom headquarters in Bonn he was in regular contact with the national Telekom operations. “Since 2004 I had been involved in all important mergers and acquisitions of Deutsche Telekom.”

He left the company in 2012 and went to Qtel (later Ooredoo) in Qatar. Then he worked for one and a half years in Burma. In 2014 he returned to the Deutsche Telekom Group as Senior Vice-President for Technology Strategy and Economics. After his return to the group he started to focus on 5G and next to his previous activities he analysed among others the economic use of the new possibilities emerging from 5G technology and the deriving possible business models.


Artificial intelligence providing a more efficient error management

Another focal area in his work is the issue of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Beyond the theory, his main fields of interest are the specific and future applications in practice. Artificial intelligence and adaptive systems could in his view contribute to the management of the increasing complexity of networks.

AI can, for example in the case of network irregularities, detect much faster which are the most critical elements and which counter-measures need to be taken. “This does not primarily mean a reduction in staff, rather that we want to achieve a significantly higher quality and efficiency, after all, in order to improve customer experience and satisfaction” Larsen underlined.

Not even the best AI system could do without human beings. With all its advantages, there will always be limits where people will have to have the final word. “AI systems offer a lot of potentials but we should never lose sight of their real possibilities and their limits” he emphasises. As an example he refers to autonomous driving, which is considerably limited by ethical issues.

“My technology team are working on some super exciting projects in and around data science, applied machine learning and artificial intelligence for tackling some of the biggest challenges to our sector when it comes to intelligent automation. We work closely on these projects with research and innovation facilities within DT Group and universities.”

Hungarian engineers: Committed with passion and quality

When asked about his first impressions in Hungary he becomes enthusiastic. “A most exciting country with a high quality of life.” Thanks to his Hungarian wife, he had already known the country and its culture, to some extent. Larsen is also impressed by his new Hungarian colleagues. “They are very passionate, have super high qualities and are excellent engineers,” he summarises. They work hard and are eager to be the best. “The discussions with our engineers are of a high quality. They know what they talk about, are committed, passionate and highly engaged.”

He also appreciates the Hungarian infrastructure. “We have the fastest LTE network in Europe. After Seoul and Hong Kong, Hungary is number three world-wide.” The mix of top-quality staff and top-class infrastructure is a great environment for innovation. As a third positive factor, Larsen mentions the strong commitment of the Hungarian government to put Hungary on the roadmap for innovation and technology. Not only at the level of declarations, but in practice, as well. He gives the example of the upcoming test-drive facilities in Zalaegerszeg, where future technologies in autonomous driving will soon be tested. Magyar Telekom will test 5G solutions there.


Open-mindedness on all sides

In Hungary however, not only the economy is open-minded and forward-looking, but also universities. “You can sense the passion and the energy that they want to be in the forefront,” says Larsen, and refers finally to another objective advantage of Hungary. “Hungary is a small country and you can implement here things much faster and much more cost-efficiently than for example in Germany.” Thus he thinks that Hungary is an ideal test area for upcoming technologies in IT.

And what about emigration? Larsen points out the competitive wages and attractive jobs for engineers in his company: “All in all, Hungary is at the moment the best place in Europe for our sector.” He is sure of this. It is very attractive, especially for young people, to be able to work in the forefront for innovations for the future. This is a strong motivation for people to stay here. Or to return, as a Hungarian colleague of Larsen just did, who resettled from Finland after many years outside Hungary.

Further extend the leading position

Larsen and his team are currently making all efforts to retain and to further extend the leading position of Magyar Telekom in the Hungarian market. “We have the best 4G/LTE network in Hungary and we want to keep it that way,” he emphasises. At present, the focus is among others on establishing a wider use of Voice-over LTE among the Magyar Telekom customers.

Customers could have access to a new and vastly improved speech-experience, among others through a better call quality and a faster establishment of the call or connection. This type of communication could also offer more capacities that would be perceivable especially in video over LTE.

Although the company is very well positioned in Hungary, there is still a lot of growth potential. Available frequencies should be utilised even better. In network coverage, however, there is hardly any plus ultra. Population-wise, the coverage is around 99.8 %, geographically above 99%. “By the end of the year, most of the holes will be closed up,” promises Larsen.


The most important now is to increase network capacity. The smaller size of the country proves to be a benefit in case of such investments. “Smaller size helps us in Hungary to provide economically for an LTE coverage and to offer better quality to our customers,” he underlines. While in Germany, for example, a full GSM coverage would require ca. 27,000 cell towers, while in Hungary you would only need 1/9 of this volume. Network sharing would also lead to cost-effective operations of the Hungarian networks.

Next to a gradual increase of the network capacity, Larsen and his team of engineers focus on the increase of – what is called – operational excellence. This means among others minimising failures, reducing the time for the detection of errors and reducing the repair time. Modernisation of the landline network and the fibre rollout are especially important. This means basically the increase in bandwidth for the customers and a much more reliable network than the legacy most customers are connected to today. Due to the fact that in Hungary – unlike in Germany – it is not mandatory to lay cables underground, such investments can be implemented more economically and fibre networks can be deployed much faster.

5G to enter consumer market after mid 2020s

The 5G-future will get a major stimulus and make a step to its use in praxis late 2018 early 2019, after the opening of the test-drive in Zalaegerszeg. The global telecommunication sector is at the moment in the so-called pre-standard-phase. According to Larsen, this phase will be completed by 2020 (latest). In the middle of the 2020s, the 5G will slowly open up for the consumer market and provide for business and societal solutions in areas such as the autonomous driving, smart-health and smart city, or as Deutsche Telekom calls them: the Smart Universe.

Larsen is definite that “Hungarian engineers will be in the forefront of many 5G development projects”.

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