VATM market study: The expansion of fiber optics is accelerating

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The expansion of direct fiber optic connections (FTTB / H) is accelerating, investment funds are available – that is one of the findings from the market study by the provider association VATM. The telecommunications market experts no longer rate infrastructure expansion as a central problem for digitization in Germany.

The annual study for the telecommunications market is carried out by the consultancy Dialog Consult for the VATM. The author of the study is Prof. Thorsten Gerpott.

Fiber optic expansion is accelerating

According to the study, there should be a total of 37.4 million broadband connections in Germany by the end of this year, of which 2.5 million (6.7 percent) are fiber optic (FTTB / H). In general, the expansion of fiber optics continues to accelerate, according to the forecast there should be 7.5 million of these connections in Germany by the end of the year – in 2020 there were still 5.4 million. 2.5 million of these are switched, an increase of 600,000 connections over the previous year.

Based on the approx. 41 million households in Germany, around 18 percent have a direct fiber optic connection. 3.2 million of these are accounted for by Telekom, which is currently switching 0.8 million. The competitors remain leaders in the FTTB / H environment, but Telekom is making progress.

The majority of the gigabit connections still run over the cable network, which has enabled corresponding bandwidths since the switch to DOCSIS 3.1. According to the forecast, 23.9 million corresponding connections should exist by the end of 2021, an increase of 1.2 million compared to the previous year. There are a total of 31.4 million Gigabit-enabled connections in Germany. But there are overlaps. For example, some households can use both the cable network and FTTB / H. If you deduct that, you get around 27.5 million households that can book a gigabit connection.

VATM TK study 2021: Broadband classes VATM TK study 2021: Broadband classes (Image: VATM)

It is also interesting to take a look at the broadband classes that customers book. Accordingly, the proportion of customers who book a gigabit connection will double by the end of the year – the proportion will rise from 2.8 percent at the end of 2020 to 5.3 percent at the end of this year. The majority meanwhile continue to use a connection that offers between 50 Mbit / s and 250 Mbit / s.

Telekom remains the market leader

If the overall market is considered, Telekom remains the market leader in the fixed network area – 38.7 percent of broadband customers are with the Bonn-based group. Vodafone follows in second place with 30.2 percent. Third place was occupied by 1 & 1 with 11.7 percent, Telefónica O2 achieved 6.3 percent.

Of the 157.8 million active SIM cards in Germany, around three quarters are classified as personal SIM cards. Progress is being made with 5G. “The number of 5G-capable SIM cards has more than tripled to 10.8 million within one year. The development of the 5G cellular networks is progressing rapidly in 2021“, Says Gerpott. With active SIM cards, Vodafone achieved a market share of 38.7 percent. The Telekom comes to 31.7 percent, Telefónica O2 to 29.6 percent. In terms of sales, Telekom leads with a share of 30.9 percent, ahead of O2 (27 percent) and Vodafone (25 percent).

There are enough investment funds

According to the study, investments are increasing significantly. In 2021, a total of 6 billion euros was invested in the networks; this year it will be 10.8 billion euros. The competitors account for 6.2 billion euros. There can therefore be no question of an investment emergency, as it is sometimes called by politics. “There are enough investment funds“, Says Gerpott. And in the coming years, there will also be additional sums in the double-digit billions.

Distributing funds and accelerating expansion – that will also be the task of the coming federal government. However, Gerpott no longer sees too much need for action. He currently locates the problems more at the application level. VATM President David Zimmer also relies on private-sector expansion, which is faster than funded projects that would take two to three years longer. The funding framework must therefore be completely revised, said Zimmer.

In addition, the expansion targets should be extended. The last federal government wanted to implement the gigabit expansion by 2025, but the year 2030 would be more appropriate for the VATM, if only due to the lack of construction capacities. The main problem during this time is the expansion in rural areas, so an interim solution is necessary. “Such a quick digitization aid can only be provided by radio or satellite“, Says David Zimmer.

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