German regulator OKs DT/EWE fibre optic growth JV

Created January 6, 2020
News and Business

German cartel authority the Bundeskartellamt has decided to approve the JV plans of Deutsche Telekom and EWE AG to expand fibre optic networks to end-customers in the northwestern region of the country. The JV – Glasfaser NordWest -will be obliged to add 300,000 end user fibre connections over the next four years.  Longer term, the JV aims to connect up to 1.5 million private households and companies in parts of North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony and Bremen with FTTB or FTTH. To this end, up to €2 billion is to be invested in the next ten years.

Earlier, on December 5th, 2019, Deutsche Telekom and EWE made a series of concessions to the Bundeskartellamt in order to receive approval.

These included:

  • The commitment to deploy the 300,000 connections to end customers with fibre optic cables in the course of the next four years, in some cases also in rural areas. This meant that much more was being developed in the area than was originally planned as part of the cooperation, and also it represents more than was expected if the companies were to expand independently
  • Both companies would continue to participate independently of one another in tenders for the promotion of Gigabit-capable telecommunication networks, particularly in rural areas
  • Third parties were to be granted non-discriminatory access to the new network and high-quality wholesale technical products. Within a certain period of time, a specific proportion of the developed connections would be left to competing telecommunications companies, which can then market them to the end customers themselves.

“The parties involved have committed themselves to substantial investments in the rapid expansion of Gigabit-capable networks,” observed Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt (pictured). “As we see it, the cooperation will lead to significant improvements on the telecommunications markets in the region concerned and also in rural areas.”

The German association of alternative operators, Bundesverband Breitbandkommunikation e. V. (BREKO) has approved the Glasfaser NordWest decision. “We are convinced: on the way to nationwide fibre optic expansion in Germany, network operators must work together even more than before and also invest together. Co-investment models prevent economically senseless superstructure and at the same time force the urgently needed, real fibre optic expansion into the buildings and apartments,” commented BREKO Managing Director Dr. Stephan Albers. “The motto of BREKO is: glass fibre now! We therefore welcome it if the fibre optic expansion that is indispensable for the digitalisation of business, society and administration is further accelerated through cooperation.”

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This article was written
by John Williamson

John Williamson is a freelance telecommunications, IT and military communications journalist. He has also written for national and international media, and been a telecoms advisor to the World Bank.