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Georg von Wagner

Germany's biggest fiber-optic project launched

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  • Faster Internet connections for 40,000 homes and businesses
  • Telekom laying 1,700 km of optical fiber and building 1,000 new street cabinets
  • Bandwidths of up to 1 Gbit/s from late 2019 in Western Pomerania/Rügen district (north-east Germany)

Telekom today began installing faster Internet connections on the mainland portion of north-east Germany's Western Pomerania/Rügen district. The initiative is currently Germany's largest FTTH project. After Telekom won the public tender in late 2017, approximately 1,700 kilometers of optical fiber will now be laid and 1,000 fiber-optic street cabinets installed. The fiber-optic roll-out will benefit 40,000 households and businesses. The first customers will enjoy connection speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s by the end of 2018.  The project was kicked off today with a joint appearance by the Minister for Energy, Infrastructure and Digitalization of the Federal State of Western Pomerania, Christian Pegel, the head of the Western Pomerania/Rügen district administration, Ralf Drescher, and the CEO of Deutsche Telekom AG, Timotheus Höttges.

"Fast Internet will make Western Pomerania/Rügen an even better place to live and work. That is why, in addition to the Federal Government, the government of the Federal State is supporting this roll-out with 28 million euros in funding. We want to make Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania a great region to live in," said Minister Christian Pegel.

The head of Western Pomerania/Rügen's district administration, Ralf Drescher, was pleased that work is now beginning in Klein Kedingshagen, part of Kramerhof municipality. "In future fast Internet connections will be essential to people's private and work lives. They constitute a major advantage for the region as a center of business in the digital age. This must be the first time that Germany's north-east has taken the lead in rolling out new infrastructure. We have to seize this opportunity," underscored Ralf Drescher.

"Building work starts today," said Timotheus Höttges, CEO of Deutsche Telekom AG. "We are showing that rural areas and fast Internet needn't be a contradiction in terms. In just eighteen months, residents of the Western Pomerania/Rügen district will be able to surf the web at speeds of 1 gigabit. That will make this district the first in Germany to have world-beating digital infrastructure."

Ralf Drescher underscored why this project matters: "The roll-out will give the public the best possible telecommunications. The key is ensuring that all building and home owners in the roll-out area make use of the infrastructure and take part in the project. This forward-looking infrastructure gives our district the chance to become one of the most attractive regions to live and work." And Deutsche Telekom’s CEO Höttges added: "Optical fiber can become a reality if we all work together: No single company could possibly roll out optical fiber across all of Germany. That is why, as a company, we welcome government funding to ensure a gigabit network gets built that provides the greatest possible coverage."

About the technology and timeline

As construction gets underway today, the planning phase gives way to rolling out the transmission technology in the street cabinets and exchanges. Then the new cables and connections have to be linked up to Telekom's national network. The first customers will be able to use their new lines by the end of the year. However, the civil engineering works are so extensive that the roll-out will not be complete until the third quarter of 2019.

The fiber-optic cables will be installed all the way into homes. The signals will then be transmitted optically from end to end. Once complete, the network will no longer have copper wires carrying electric signals. The new network will offer download speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second and upload speeds of up to 500 megabit per second.

Telekom's network in figures

Telekom plans to lay 60,000 kilometers of optical fiber this year. For comparison: In 2017 it laid 40,000 kilometers. Telekom's full fiber-optic network measures 455,000 kilometers and is the largest in Europe. It would wrap around the Earth ten times. It costs between 50,000 and 150,000 euros to lay a kilometer of optical fiber cables. Telekom invests around five billion euros per year in Germany.

A network entirely of glass

Until now, telephone and Internet signals were transmitted over the last mile, i.e., between the street cabinet and the connection in the home, via copper cable. With copper cables, the longer the cable the slower the signal transmission. As optical fiber is rolled out the new cables are laid all the way into apartments and home, i.e., they end behind the customers' front doors. This is known as "fiber to the home" (FTTH). The telephone network is then free of copper cables; signals are transmitted optically. When rolling out the fiber-optic network, Telekom makes use of existing cable paths, manholes, vacant pipes, and collective ducts. Civil engineering works are only carried out where necessary. Telekom hires local companies to do the work, ensuring value creation and jobs in the region.

Fiber-optic connections give people living within the roll-out area top-speed access to the Internet via a single line. Customers can also use the line to receive our TV service Entertain, including 3D television, ultra high definition films (ultra HD), an online video library, and time-shift television. Optical fiber is the ideal basis for future services and applications such as telemedicine, automating private residential buildings (controlling lighting, alarm systems, heating, blinds and shutters, etc.), online training (e-learning) and electronic transmission of power consumption (smart metering). Optical fiber also makes working from home or by videoconference even faster and more efficient. Optical fiber is also more resilient than copper cable and does not deteriorate with age. Optical fiber is an infrastructure decision for the next 40 to 50 years, making buildings equipped with this technology fit for the future.

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