German fixed broadband subscriptions expand further as take-up of FTTP and cable broadband (DOCSIS 3.0/3.1) accelerates in 1Q18
Germany registered a total of 33.6m fixed broadband subscriptions as of end-1Q18 (+4.1% YoY). The growth was driven by the uptake of high-speed broadband services (e.g. FTTP and DOCSIS 3.0/3.1), resulting in a 33.8% YoY growth in FTTP subscriptions, and 6.8% YoY growth in cable modem. The series of network upgrades and fibre network expansions positively affected the fixed broadband development in the country. For instance, Unitymedia has already started upgrading its fixed broadband networks in the town of Bochum (365 000) inhabitants to realise up to 1 Gbit/s broadband connections. Deutsche Telekom, meanwhile, has already started rolling out its fibre networks in the district of Pomerania/Rugen (with 40 000 households and businesses) as part of its plan to lay around 1 700 km of fibre optic networks in the area.
InfoCom also noted that Deutsche Telekom has been trialling other technologies which are seen as alternatives to FTTP. In January 2018, the operator started trialling its “wireless-to-the-building” technology, called the “virtual fibre”. The said solution is reportedly based on unlicensed 60 GHz frequencies (mmWave) and enables bandwidths around 1 Gbit/s or more as shared medium. The idea is that street lamps get a fibre connection and are equipped with antennas. Such antennas/receivers are also installed at blocks of flats (e.g. above the entrance door). A large number of street lamps has to be equipped with antennas and fibre connections, building thus a dense wireless network. As the wireless connection can be blocked by vehicles (e.g. large lorries), re-routing features to other antenna sites have to apply quickly. The operator plans to kick off a parallel live field-test in Hungary before end-2018, in collaboration with its subsidiary Magyar Telekom.