Deutsche Telekom chief calls for Open Cable

By Julian Clover
February 10, 2010 09.51 UK

15.00 Update: Deutsche Telekom CEO René Obermann has called for regulation to force companies such as Kabel Deutschland to open up their networks to third parties.

In an interview with Welt Online, Obermann call for non-discriminatory access of the kind already being put forward in the Netherlands and Denmark. “Cable operators that have rolled out broadband wiring in homes, should also give access to the competitors,” Obermann told the business publication. “It would be illogical not to accept this in the regulatory debate.”

Obermann’s comments follow an earlier interview by Robert Hoffman, CEO of ISP 1 & 1, who had said that cable networks should be opened up in the interests of the consumer.

In a statement released to Broadband TV News, a spokesman for Kabel Deutschland said that only the company’s entry in 2005 had brought real competition into the German Telecommunications market. “Currently, the cable providers have a 10% broadband market share in Germany. From our perspective, this market share does not justify regulation. In fact, according to German and European laws, regulation is always connected to existing market dominance. Further regulation of the cable at this early stage would prevent the infrastructure competition which, at long last, has just started successfully. The recent statement of the Bundesnetzagentur (Federal Network Agency of Germany) also confirms our position.” The statement continues: “We are very much aware that Deutsche Telekom considers KDG a strong competitor. In addition, we would like to point out that in the TV sector KDG already is subject to considerable broadcast, telecommunication and cartel regulation.”

German cable has been a relatively late entrant into the provision of high-speed broadband internet, even though DOCSIS 3 technology is now leading the triple play charge. Only this week Kabel Deutschland announced the rollout of DOCSIS 3-enabled speeds of 100 Mbps.

The progress, particularly the delivery into the home, has not been lost on Obermann: “Firstly, they can move data faster than the copper wires of Telekom. Second, they have concluded contracts with housing associations, which often have a period of well over ten years.” Obermann says it is a logical next step to connect fibre to the copper wires running around consumer homes, creating a “Gigabit Society.”