The problem with fiber optic expansion is currently the superstructure of existing infrastructure, which primarily affects lucrative regions such as metropolitan areas. The focus is on Deutsche Telekom, against which most of the allegations are directed. A law is now being demanded that prohibits such practices.
This is reported by Welt am Sonntag, citing a letter from the Federal Association for Fiber Optic Connections (Buglas), which was addressed to Federal Digital Minister Volker Wissing directs. The core of the allegations is that instead of relying on open access – i.e. mutual access to the fiber optic networks of one provider – half of the Buglas members are now reporting on Telekom’s superstructure plans in their regions.
The letter says: “We are currently observing superstructure activities in Cologne, near Augsburg, in Munich, but also in numerous other areas of Germany.” The Buglas has around 150 members.
The superstructure of existing infrastructure is considered to be detrimental to the overall expansion. The smaller network operators accuse Telekom of primarily targeting lucrative areas. We're talking about cherry picking. However, this jeopardizes the calculations of locally active companies who want to completely expand a region. This overall expansion is then no longer worthwhile for them.
Politicians see a need for action
Politicians now see a need for action. The “strategic superstructure of Telekom in particular” harms the entire gigabit expansion in Germany, says Maximilian Funke-Kaiser, digital politician of the FDP parliamentary group, the world on Sunday. The expansion announcements alone would endanger local fiber optic projects. Anke Domscheit-Berg, digital policy spokeswoman for the Left Group in the Bundestag, makes a similar statement. She calls for the superstructure to be prohibited if there is already a fiber optic network with open access in a region.
Reinhard Brandl from the CDU/CSU parliamentary group also wants to ban cherry picking when it comes to fiber optic expansion. Municipalities should be given the right not to approve expansion projects until the entire municipality has not been fully supplied at least once.
Telekom does not dispute the superstructure
The Buglas letter is a highlight in one Dispute that has been brewing for months. At the beginning of December 2022, NetCologne announced that Telekom would already be marketing an area equipped with fiber optics in the south of Cologne. What was amazing was that Telekom did not deny the allegations, but referred to the market environment and competition. “Telecom is taking part in the competition,” a Telekom spokesman told Golem.
The phenomenon is not new. Corresponding allegations were made years ago when Telekom expanded vectoring. At that time, too, network operators accused the Bonn-based group of overbuilding fiber optic infrastructure – more or less deliberately. Corresponding effects can also be observed in the expansion of the cable networks (page 18).