VATM study hits out at Deutsche Telekom’s overbuild strategy


The study, conducted by Dialog Consult on behalf of the Internet industry association VATM, shows the fibre rollout accelerating across Germany but was critical of the incumbents methods 

This week, a new study from Germany’s Verband für Telekommunikation und Mehrwertdienste (VATM) has shed light on rapid progress being made in Germany’s fibre market.

The study shows that the country’s fibre rollout continues at a steady pace, with nearly 19 million households – almost half of the German population – expected to have access to fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) connectivity by the middle of the year.

This is an increase of 2 million since the end of 2023.

But despite this availability, adoption of fibre services remains relatively low, with only 4.6 million customers (24%) buying full fibre services. This is roughly half of the European average, which sits at around 50%, according to figures from the FTTH Council Europe.

According to the study, take-up of full fibre services is only 13% in locations covered by incumbent operator Deutsche Telekom, versus 35.1% in areas covered by the company’s rivals.

This is not the only part of the study that appears to paint Deutsche Telekom in a less-than-glamorous light. VATM suggests that Telekom’s rollout strategy is reaching just 73% of households with FTTP in areas the company is expanding in, leaving over a quarter of the areas without access to the new technology.

The study also argues that Germany’s largest operator is overbuilding rivals’ networks, rather than expanding its fibre network to those without existing fibre connections.

Combined, this strategy leaves Germany’s smaller network operators unable to expand effectively, while also leaving customers reliant on Telekom’s existing DSL network.

Telekom says these accusations are unfounded, complaining that “market figures and developments are twisted” in the study to support VATM’s narrative.

“The VATM is undeterred in its campaign against Telekom’s fiber optic expansion with false claims and an aggressive tone. Market figures and developments are twisted so that they fit into their own story. This is dubious and unfair. This damages the entire industry and its reputation harmed in public,” said Telekom in a translated statement given to COMPUTER BILD.

“In view of the high investment sums, the enormous expansion volumes, the intensive marketing activities and the recently significantly increased take-up rate, it is completely absurd to deny Telekom the seriousness of the fiber optic expansion. On the subject of double expansion, the fact is that the Federal Network Agency clearly refuted the repeated allegations made by competitors in its most recent report. No company, including Telekom, can be found to have engaged in strategic misconduct. And in half of the cases examined, Telekom is overexploited by competitors. The topic is and remains a sham debate.”

“The actual goal of the VATM is to slow down Telekom and enable competitors to have unregulated monopolies in fiber optics and to prevent competition with the copper coaxial network through Telekom’s more powerful fiber optic connections. This is neither in the interest of customers nor of politics.”

The wider fibre ecosystem attacking the incumbent for perceived anticompetitive practises is nothing new in the German market. At the start of the year, for example, a study from the German Association of Local Public Utilities (VKU) showed that 62% of German fibre players were threatened by overbuilding by rivals, with Deutsche Telekom the primary culprit.

Telkom has argued that it is only overbuilding in locations where it is economical to do so.

Want to keep up with all the latest news from the German fibre market? Join the operators in discussion at this year’s Connected Germany conference in Munich

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