Europe investigates proposed Deutsche Telekom vectoring network upgrade

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation into the decision to allow Deutsche Telekom to upgrade its fixed copper network with vectoring technology.

While there’s no question this would improve the speeds available to DT’s customers, with 1.4 million expected to receive broadband speeds in excess of 50 Mbps. The concern is that the upgrade will involve the use of entire bundles of copper cable and thus restrict the service available to other providers looking to lease DT’s infrastructure.

“Our aim is to allow both a network upgrade and high quality access for competitors,” said EC Commissioner Günther Oettinger. “For this, we need sufficient safeguards to protect sustainable competition and create incentives to invest in future-oriented networks for the gigabit society, a society where citizens and businesses benefit from ultra-fast connectivity (1000Mbit/s).”

DT was given the green light by the German telecoms regulator – BnetzA – but the EC seems to have decided it can’t be trusted to make such a call. The EC reckons the alternative access solutions suggested by BnetzA don’t do enough to ensure competition in future.

“BNetzA’s draft plan makes it highly likely that only DT could install the vectoring technology which would serve more than 90% of the 6 million households in question,” said the EC statement. The Commission now has three months to discuss the case with BNetzA, in close cooperation with the body of European regulators (BEREC), in order to remove any elements giving rise to serious doubts as to compliance with EU law.”

UPDATE 10:30 11 May 2016:

Vodafone, as major competitor of DT in Germany, thinks this is a good move. “We welcome and strongly support the European Commission’s decision,” it said in a statement. “Businesses and consumers in Germany and across the EU as a whole need world-class competitive gigabit fibre networks to ensure future prosperity. Attempts to remonopolise – of the kind now under scrutiny by the Commission – would be fundamentally at odds with the spirit of European competitive telecommunications established more than 30 years ago.

“The decision to open a Phase II procedure gives the time required to find a good and fair solution that will enable German businesses and consumers to benefit from both faster broadband and competition. We are confident that solutions can be found that enable this.”

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