There is always criticism of Deutsche Telekom's broadband build-out in the media: sometimes we're building too little, sometimes we're accused of using the wrong technology, sometimes the allegation is that we're preventing other providers from expanding. It's time to put a few things right.
The main feature of discussions of broadband build-out in Germany is tunnel vision. The benchmark is taken to be the stark figure of households with optical fiber lines (FTTH), with no other factors taken into account. This misses the very important point that the actual objective is slightly different: providing people with high transmission speeds as quickly and as comprehensively as possible, something that is working very well in Germany.
- According to the EU Commission, with a coverage level of more than 80 percent super-fast broadband access (next-generation access of more than 30 megabits per second), Germany is among the leading European countries. Countries like Switzerland and France are already rethinking their focus on FTTH.
- No other company is driving broadband build-out forward as much as Deutsche Telekom. In this year alone, we will connect a further three million households to the super-fast Internet. Each year, we invest about five billion euros in Germany, which is a record amount.
- We are building out the fiber-optic network, with an additional 25,000 kilometers each year since 2010. We have by far the largest fiber-optic network in Germany, stretching over 455,000 kilometers. Vodafone, in comparison, doesn't even have 60,000 kilometers.
- We are committed to vectoring, because it is the only way to provide people in rural areas with faster lines, quickly. If we are fixated on FTTH, those in the countryside will remain left behind for years. It is simply impossible to roll out fiber lines to homes everywhere in the country. Neither the construction capacity nor the funding is available for that. Plus there is quite simply no demand for it.
- Deutsche Telekom committed itself to provide 80 percent of households with a minimum of 50 megabits per second. We are fulfilling that, which leaves no room for cherry-picking. Other companies have not made this type of commitment, especially not the cable operators. They are quite happy to use their own copper infrastructure while demanding that other companies build out the fiber-optic network.
- Vectoring build-out is based on fiber technology: fiber-optic cables are laid as far as the cable distributors, i.e., to the gray boxes at the roadside. From there, the fiber can then be extended right to the household in a second phase.
- Customers who would like a fiber-optic line straight away can request an offer for this. This makes sense for companies in particular. We have also launched an initiative aimed at proving fiber-optic lines to hundreds of business parks in Germany.
- We are committed to cooperation models. No company is capable of building out Germany's fiber network on its own. We have already signed cooperation agreements with NetCologne, Innogy and EWE. We are open to different types of possible collaboration: we would be prepared to rent infrastructure, or to set up joint ventures. This could include both cooperation models with local carriers and with larger competitors.
- We stick to the rules of market research and bids for tenders. Competition in infrastructure is required. This applies also to municipalities and districts. There is no investment protection for specific providers. That would fundamentally go against the rules of competition. Plus, tax income can only be used for areas where no private investors can be found. Anything else would be considered a waste of public funds, and inhibits private investment. In addition, we are the only provider that has committed not to change build-out plans in the case of ongoing funding procedures. This improves planning certainty for municipalities and districts.
- Germany is among the leading nations in mobile communications. The average transmission speed, at 24.1 megabits per second, is the second highest. Plus, Deutsche Telekom provides the highest LTE coverage and has already connected up most of its antenna sites with optical fiber. Vodafone, on the other hand, continues to rely mainly on radio relay.
Our broadband build-out of the fixed and mobile networks is laying the foundations for 5G, the next communication standard, which will make the Internet of Things and self-driving cars possible. So as you can see, we are making sure that fiber technology will reach every street, step by step. And while we're hard at work building, others just sit back and bellyache.