Deutsche Telekom expresses interest in FTTH partnerships with competitors at Buglas conference

Thursday 7 December 2017 | 15:19 CET | News

Deutsche Telekom said it is looking to enter into “new alliances” with partners and former competitors to promote the expansion of broadband internet in Germany, Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Hoettges told representatives from fibre-network industry association Buglas in a speech during Buglas’s annual general meeting in Niederkassel on 06 December. 

Despite their differences over issues like vectoring, Hoettges said Deutsche Telekom was interested in working with Buglas members “to lay as many FTTH and FTTB connections as possible” to bring Germany into the gigabit age. The low demand for FTTH connections also makes collaboration reasonable as it would enable firms to split investment costs rather than construct competing networks, said Deutsche Telekom. 

The announcement is somewhat of an about-face for Deutsche Telekom, which has frequently come under criticism for its decision to expand broadband internet by investing heavily in upgrades to its existing copper wire network through vectoring over more efficient fibre-optics. 

Hoettges called on German regulators to carve out exceptions for FTTH connections to allay competitors’ concerns that they will be entangled in regulations affecting Deutsche Telekom if they cooperate with company in building out fibre-optic networks, including rules on granting network access to other players under conditions laid out by the Federal Network Agency, Germany’s national telecoms regulator. 

Several Buglas members have joined Deutsche Telekom in a joint position paper calling for FTTH-collaborations and more flexible regulations. The Federal Network Agency said earlier this week that it is already looking into ways to adapt regulations to better promote the spread of fibre-optics in Germany. But while Deutsche Telekom has previously called for regulations for fibre-optics to be completely abolished, Buglas’s members are only pushing for regulations to be loosened the encourage the roll-out of FTTB/H networks. The country’s Monopoly Commission has likewise spoken against completely doing away with regulations on fibre-optics.  

Deutsche Telekom is already reportedly looking into setting up a joint-venture with regional provider EWE to outfit 1 million households with FTTH connections. While Hoettges did not confirm these plans in his speech, he indicated Deutsche Telekom would be flexible in how it arranges potential partnerships with regional providers, according to Heise. Telekom could purchase network capacities from providers for example, or invest in new networks altogether, they added. 

Buglas elects new board

Buglas also elected new board members during their annual congress. Timo von Lepel, the CEO of NetCologne and Buglas board member since the summer of 2017, was elected Vice President of the association following the departure of former vice president Michael Fraenkle in November. Dorit Bode, management spokesperson for provider M-net, was also elected to the association’s board. 

Buglas said that 15 new companies joined the association in 2017, bringing the total number of members to 85.

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