We interviewed Christian Humpert ahead of our upcoming event Connected Germany, which is being held in Mainz on April 5-6 2022
Can you introduce yourself and your current role?
My name is Christian Humpert and I have been Managing Director of DB broadband since March 2021. Initially responsible for Operations (COO), before taking over as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in August 2021.
Before joining Deutsche Bahn, I spent over 20 years in the Telco industry, more than 12 years in various management positions at Vodafone in Germany and abroad.
Where does DB broadband fit into Germany’s connectivity ecosystem?
DB broadband is a 100% subsidiary of DB Netz AG and markets free dark fiber capacities from Deutsche Bahn’s fiber network to telecommunications companies. With our nationwide fiber footprint of over 20,000km, which will expand to a total of 33.400 km until 2027, we see ourselves as a key enabler for companies that build out fiber access networks in Germany.
Our fiber network is geographically unique as it stretches along the railway tracks, reaching even the remotest regions of Germany. We can give access to many previously underdeveloped communities and commercial areas, in some cases exclusively. This enables telecommunications companies to build their own networks quickly and cost-efficient into these areas, suppling rural communities and businesses with telecommunications services such as high-speed Internet.
What have been the biggest developments in Germany’s ongoing broadband rollout over the last year?
We observe that the demand for fiber optic cables in the market has grown rapidly. Among other things, I see the corona pandemic and its developments as a clear driver of broadband developments. We can already see how the parallel use of home offices, home schooling, and mobile communications is driving heavy demand for broadband and network capacities in the consumer space. In addition, the B2B sector has an ever-increasing demand for bandwidth as digitalization progresses. Rural areas are becoming a more popular place to live in, as metro areas are less and less affordable. However, living and working in the countryside is only attractive if an excellent digital infrastructure is available. The demand from households and companies is growing.
While the fiber build-out in metropolitan areas seems to have reached a mature status, financial investors now focus on increasingly attractive regions outside the main cities. The number of new participants is growing rapidly and the race for the most profitable regions has begun. As DB broadband, we are happy to support with our rural footprint.
Last but not least, the current German government is increasingly committed to support the industry and has just recently published key points of its gigabit strategy. In a nutshell: fiber connectivity is the main driver for a digital society.
What are your predictions for the German broadband market in the next 18 months?
We see a continuing high demand for fiber investments for at least another 3 to 5 years. However, supply chains will come under pressure, as will planning and civil engineering capacities. Hence, partnering with providers of existing fiber infrastructure will become paramount. This is especially true for remote, rural regions. They tend to be difficult and expensive to access. I believe that by smart collaboration with PE-backed telecommunication companies, DB broadband can play a substantial role in building the digital society in Germany.
What are you most looking forward to at Connected Germany?
Meeting my industry friends and partners after a long time of Teams/Webex conferences. Of course, I am especially looking forward to the panel discussion around the coverage of rural areas. It is an important topic! See you there.