German internet via cable growing

Jörn Krieger

German cable operators increased the number of their broadband internet customers in the first quarter of 2009 by around 200,000 to a total of more than 2 million, according to trade association ANGA. At the end of 2008 the figure was 1.85 million.

More than 1.7 million cable households subscribe to cable operators’ own pay-TV offers, which thereby reach more subscribers than pay-TV operator Premiere’s cable packages. This year cable companies plan to invest a total of around €700 million in the upgrade of their networks for internet and telephony, with an emphasis on covering rural regions with no or only limited ADSL coverage. By year-end triple play services should be available to 90% of German cable households.

In comparison with competing ADSL providers, which boast a total of 21.2 million broadband customers, cable operators are still lagging far behind. “The infrastructural competition between cable and ADSL is still in the early stage. In comparison with other industrialised nations, Germany still has a lot to catch up,” said Thomas Braun, president of cable association ANGA, in Bonn. “The market is still dominated by ADSL, but cable is already very dynamically pushing competition, growth and innovations.”

At the same time, Braun appealed to politics and regulatory bodies to take seriously the efforts of cable operators for broadband expansion and digitalisation. “Whoever wants to avoid a digital two-class society in Germany needs a strong cable network. We are at the forefront of making fast internet widely available and affordable both in urban and in rural regions – without sacrificing quality or bandwidth. That clearly differentiates us from ADSL providers.” Braun added that politics should therefore refrain from the anti-competitive support of interim or niche technologies.