Europe’s largest fixed-line carrier Deutsche Telekom AG has announced that its domestic fixed-line network will connect Germany’s 50 largest cities with broadband speeds up to 50MBps by 2007.
The move is part of a 3bn euro ($3.7bn) spending plan over two years in which Deutsche Telekom will upgrade large parts of its network. The upgrade means that Deutsche Telekom will strip out large parts of its old copper wire network and replace it with high-capacity fiber-optic cable, capable of speeds of up to 50MBps.
It is understood that the Bonn, Germany-based carrier plans to start two pilot schemes in Hamburg and Stuttgart. The roll-out will then cover 10 unnamed German cities by mid-2006, and by 2007 this will reach 50 of Germany’s largest cities.
Our vision is to give the customer access via one single line – i.e. our broadband connection – to the wealth of the multimedia world, using a range of devices: at present telephones, televisions, PCs, video telephones and multimedia boxes, said Walter Raizner, a member of Deutsche Telekom’s board. The benefits of this for our customers are obvious. They will have easy access to superfast internet, video, games offers, high-quality general entertainment, and interactive learning.
The upgrade is part of Deutsche Telekom’s strategy to provide its customers with so-called triple-play services. Triple-play is often regarded as the holy grail for incumbent carriers because it will allow them to offer consumers voice calls, high-speed internet, and television over the same connection.
Triple-play is regarded as the key strategy to fend off intense competition, heavy regulatory pressure, and the move away from fixed-line to mobile phones. In the UK and US, this has largely been the preserve of cable companies, although fixed-line carriers on both sides of the Atlantic are currently scrambling to offer a comparable service.
Deutsche Telekom is lagging behind its European rivals such as France Telecom SA and BT Group Plc. It is upgrading only part of its network to fiber optic, but in the UK, for example, BT is already switching its old analog switched network to an IP-based network.
The project, known as the 21st Century Network (21CN), will see BT’s entire PSTN based network replaced with an IP-based network. This $20bn roll-out is already under way, and the first migration of customer lines to the new infrastructure is expected to begin during the second half of 2006. The 21CN will be completed by 2008 and 2009. Before that, BT is trialing ADSL2+, which can offer consumers speeds up of 24MBps. In France, ADSL2+ has already been rolled out.
Meanwhile, a UK-based high-speed broadband internet service provider has just broken the UK broadband speed record with an 18.5MBps connection. Be Un Ltd is the first ISP in the UK to take advantage of ADSL2+ technology.