We interviewed BREKO’s President Norbert Westfal ahead of Connected Germany, taking place in Mainz on April 5-6

Can you introduce yourself and your role? 

My name is Norbert Westfal, and I am the president of BREKO, the leading German Broadband Association, since November 2014 and the managing director of EWE Tel since 2011. I have previously worked for companies such as Mannesmann, Arcor, and Vodafone in various capacities.

In my role as BREKO president, I represent over 410 member companies (including over 225 network operators) which are responsible for 80 % of the competitive fibre deployment (FTTB/H) in Germany. In 2020 alone, BREKO members invested around €2.9 billion, thus making a significant contribution to the nationwide roll-out of fibre and to achieving the broadband targets of the German government.

How do you think Germany’s broadband landscape will evolve in the next year or so?

The outlook for Germany’s broadband landscape, especially regarding fibre deployment, is very promising. For the first time ever, the German government included a real fibre goal in their coalition agreement. This strong political commitment is mirrored by the efforts of our alternative network operators that are deploying future-proof fibre networks on a daily basis. 

Thanks to a great amount of economically viable deployment, combined with funding in those areas where it is absolutely necessary, we are constantly moving towards our infrastructure goal of bringing fibre to at least every building in Germany. Additionally, we are also connecting more and more mobile sites to fibre networks, which shows that Germany is on the right way for achieving its future connectivity.

Where do you see the role of alternative network operators for fibre deployment in Germany?

Even more than in other European countries, alternative network operators consisting of nationwide as well as regional carriers and municipal utilities among others, are indispensable for a fast, comprehensive and sustainable fibre deployment in Germany. Three quarters of current fibre deployment is being done by alternative network operators, mostly through privately financed deployment.

To keep up this momentum, we need the right political and regulatory framework. Above all, public funding programmes must focus on areas where economically viable deployment cannot be foreseen for the next years. Furthermore, we need faster and more efficient granting procedures. And we should support those companies who offer Open Access to their newly built fibre network. They should not be forced to allow co-deployment and overbuild. 

What are you most looking forward to about Connected Germany? 

I am mostly looking forward to making new connections and having exciting discussions about Germany’s future fibre deployment during one of the first big events for over two years. I am also thrilled to share our, the alternative network operator’s view on current fibre roll-out during my opening speech of day 2 and its subsequent panel discussion and to get in touch with BREKO’s numerous member companies that will be present during Connected Germany.

FTTH/B expansion is a huge topic at this year’s Connected Germany, with sessions covering everything from network deployment and optimisation to the rapdily evolving investment and regulatory landscapes. You can hear from Norbert and the rest of our incredible speaker line-up by following the link and registering your place for Mainz next week!