1&1 calls for access to cable networks

United Internet subsidiary 1&1 is calling for competitors to contribute financially to the upgrading of German cable networks for fast internet access in exchange for access to the networks.

"For the benefit of consumers, by year-end there should be competition in usage of cable networks", said 1&1 CEO Robert Hoffmann to the online edition of German daily newspaper Die Welt, adding that regulation should be handled by the Federal Network Agency. "We would prefer a German broadband association in which each company is a member, but a usage right would also satisfy us", said Hoffmann. "We need an agreement by midyear to prevent us from lagging behind in competition on a European scale."

The background for the push is that fast internet connections with a data rate of more than 50 Mbit/s are only available on fibre optic (VDSL) and cable networks, while ADSL networks used by telecommunication companies such as 1&1 offer a maximum speed of 16 Mbit/s. With the move, 1&1 wants to avoid a situation where ADSL providers fall behind in the race with both Deutsche Telekom and its VDSL networks and cable operators.

Interest in high-speed internet rates is, however, still limited. According to information obtained by Die Welt, Telekom has so far not even won 100,000 customers for its VDSL network available in 50 cities. The company is hoping for a growth spurt in subscribers from July, when the bundling of VDSL access with its IPTV platform T-Home Entertain will cease. Internet connections with 25 or 50 Mbit/s will then be available without compulsory subscription to the TV package.