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German cable should make broadband contribution clear, says regulator

Germany’s cable operators should make it clear to the country’s politicians that they are able to provide high-speed broadband services to the majority of households in the country, according to a leading communications regulator.

Matthias Kurth, president of the Federal Network Agency for Electricity, Gas, Telecommunications, Post and Railways, told delegates at the opening of the ANGA Cable trade show today that cable was “a low cost and easily accessible technology to make services available to the majority of homes in Germany”. He said that 70% of the country was serviced by cable and a majority had the possibility to receive 50Mbps broadband service. “I encourage you to make that clear to politicians,” he said.

Kurth said that a levy to subsidize universal network access would be “detrimental” and that market-based provision of coverage should be encouraged where possible.

Speaking about the merger between Kabel BW and Unitymedia under the ownership of Liberty Global, which is awaiting approval by the Federal Cartel Office, Kurth said this was not his area of responsibility but said that debate about the impact of the merger was “understandable”. While in the past, the Cartel Office has ruled out combinations because of their impact on the TV market, the situation was now more complicated, he said. “Even if there are negative aspects they may be compensated by advantages in the broadband market,” he said, adding that Deutsche Telekom was also now competing nationally in the TV market, which had not been the case previously.

ANGA president Thomas Braun told the ANGA congress that three million German households now relied on cable broadband and telephony, out of 24 million households that could access cable broadband. He said that “at least two thirds” of those would be able to access 100Mbps by the end of next year. “Cable is the only true…alternative to the telephone network. Cable is the most important challenger to Deutsche Telekom,” he said, adding that the latter should compete in the market rather than seek regulatory support.