We had the pleasure of interviewing Norbert Westfal, CEO of EWE Tel GmbH ahed of next week’s Connected Germany which is taking place in Mainz on December 6-7 2022.
Can you introduce yourself and your role?
My name is Norbert Westfal, and I am CEO of EWE TEL GmbH, a regional telecommunication provider in Germany. Additionally, I am also President of BREKO, the leading German Broadband Association.
How does Germany need to progress in order to hit government FTTH targets?
Germany is on an excellent path to improve its FTTH expansion. Fibre deployment and take-up have developed impressively in recent years, as the BREKO market analysis shows. This is primarily due to investing companies. If we want to achieve the ambitious FTTH targets set by German policymakers, it is of ultimate importance that we do not jeopardise the current boom on the fibre market. As such, it is important that public funds for broadband deployment are used in a structured way. This means, we should not start all funding procedures at the same time, but rather prioritize where there is the greatest need for state aid. A first step would be to determine the potential of private investment before funding projects. Without this, we risk an uncontrolled run for public funds and exploding civil engineering prices, which will lead to a standstill of deployment without public funds. This danger is underestimated by many.
What does open access mean for fibre network expansion?
Open Access is an important matter for the alternative network operators I represent, many of which are regional companies deploying fibre networks in rural areas. These companies offer access to their networks for other telecommunications companies on fair terms: to supply private customers or to connect a company or a mobile network antenna. Today, there is no lack of supply, but a lack of demand.
What do you expect from the European Union’s Connectivity Infrastructure Act?
I expect regulation which supports and strengthens the expansion of fibre networks. The Broadband Cost Reduction Directive in its current state has had an adverse effect on fibre deployment and investment therein. It is thus crucial that any future regulatory framework rectifies these shortcomings and designates Open Access solutions as sufficient remedy before imposing mandatory duct access or co-deployment measures. In short, wherever Open Access is granted on fair and reasonable terms, there is no need for the shared-use and co-deployment obligations.
What are you most looking forward to at Connected Germany?
I look forward to a stimulating exchange of ideas and solutions with colleagues and the fibre community.
You can hear from Norbert and the rest of our amazing speaker line-up by securing your ticket for next week’s Connected Germany – follow the link to get yours!