EU green lights Deutsche Telekom vectoring plans

EU green lights Deutsche Telekom vectoring plans

Deutsche Telekom's plan to use vectoring to connect homes and offices to its network has won EU approval.

Deutsche Telekom's plan to use its existing copper wiring infrastructure to connect homes and offices to its high-speed fibre-optic broadband network has won EU approval. The EU agreed as long as Deutsche Telekom gives its rivals' access to its networks.

The German telecoms provider's use of vectoring technology, which only works when applied to a whole bundle of copper cables, means that individual lines cannot be physically unbundled to give access to alternative operators.

Competitors, including Vodafone, have vociferously complained that the pending regulation will prevent them from accessing the most lucrative parts of Deutsche Telekom’s copper cables. Vodafone also argues that the rules will delay Germany’s transition to fibre because Deutsche Telekom will continue to use its copper networks for the next few years.

Deutsche Telekom argues that vectoring is the only affordable way to provide high-speed internet. The company said that it cannot afford the €100 billion needed to build national fibre networks in Germany.

Deutsche Telekom  has said that rivals would get ‘virtual’ access to the copper ‘local loop’ network, but the EU has said this arrangement would deny the degree of control necessary to differentiate their retail offers from those of Deutsche Telekom.

The Commission said that the plan appeared to have a “considerably restricting effect on alternative operators who buy access from Deutsche Telekom” and would discuss it with the German regulator over the next three months. If no solution is found at the end of that period the Commission could ask the German regulator to withdraw or amend its decision.

Vodafone signed an agreement as long ago as 2013 to buy wholesale services based on vectoring technology from Deutsche Telekom, but has argued that vectoring and the regulations surrounding it will have a detrimental effect. 

At the time Vodafone said: “The process of upgrading copper networks by FTTC (fiber-to-the-curb) vectoring is, from our point of view, cementing the dominance of incumbents. Compared to physical unbundling costs for competitors, costs would increase by 60-90%, leading to a point where it is impossible to compete with Deutsche Telekom retail offers." 

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