Deutsche Telekom shares still higher: Municipal utilities criticize Deutsche Telekom’s fiber optic expansion

In a survey by the industry association VKU, 41 out of 66 municipal companies stated that they had a “superstructure” or that it was becoming apparent. Superstructure means that when expanding the Internet, fiber optics are also laid where there are already other fiber optic lines or where their laying has long been planned. There is criticism of this, after all, as a result there is a lack of excavators elsewhere, and many households still do not have access to the fast, stable Internet.

The annoyance of the municipal utilities applies above all to Deutsche Telekom. However, other companies are also relying on superstructures to gain a foothold in the market.

The head of the Association of Municipal Enterprises (VKU), Ingbert Liebing, sees the survey results as a “wake-up call to the federal government”. She must act. “If a ban on harmful superstructures is out of the question, the federal government, as Telekom shareholders, should use its right to have a say in order to prevent strategic superstructures,” said the association’s chief executive. Superstructure hovers “like a sword of Damocles over every new expansion project” and inhibits the willingness to invest. The problem is so serious that the goal of the federal government to expand fiber optics nationwide in Germany by 2030 is in jeopardy.

In response to the criticism, a Telekom spokesman said that it would be wrong to “slow down the dynamics of expansion through political intervention”. Instead, the expansion dynamics must be increased, for example through faster approvals, alternative laying methods and through cooperation. You are in the same boat as the industry. In this way, Germany is also achieving its expansion targets for “FTTH” (Fiber to the Home – fiber optics right into the home). “Local monopolies, which some companies are apparently striving for, are bad for the quality, price and speed of FTTH expansion.”

The criticism of Telekom is not new, several associations had already vented their anger in a joint letter in April, including the VKU and the broadband associations Anga, Breko and VATM – ie Telekom’s competitors. With this action, Telekom is destroying the business plans of the expanding companies and thwarting their expansion activities, the letter says. “Municipalities are left behind, which in the end are often only partially expanded by Telekom, and citizens without a fiber optic connection.”

Telekom boss Tim Höttges only shook his head at a press conference on quarterly figures for his group last week. “In my opinion, the narrative of small providers being overrun by the big Telekom does not work.” In some places, according to Höttges, it is the other way around: A few weeks ago, the E.ON SE subsidiary Westconnect announced that it would build fiber optics in Bonn, where Telekom has long been present with FTTH. “That’s how it is with the competition,” said Höttges. “We won’t let that deter us and we won’t stop expanding our infrastructure here in Bonn because of it.”

Meanwhile, figures from the Federal Network Agency show that the FTTH expansion in Germany is progressing rapidly. At the end of 2022, fiber optic cables were within reach of 13.1 million households. That was 4.2 million more households than a year earlier. Compared to 2020, this corresponds to a doubling. Roughly speaking, two thirds of households in Germany do not yet have FTTH access.

However, the Netzagentur figures also show that there is still plenty of room for improvement in terms of demand. Because many citizens do without the relatively expensive fiber optic contracts and are online via other technologies instead, whether via telephone lines (VDSL) or television cables. Of the fiber optic connections available by the end of 2022, only a quarter (26 percent) were activated.

In XETRA trading, the Telekom share temporarily rose by 1.10 percent to EUR 22.08.


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