We were delighted to catch up with Jan Backman, Country Manager for Germany at VX Fiber, to discuss why engagement with local utility companies could transform them into a driving force for fibre success
Compared to many of its neighbours, Germany has been slow to ramp up its fibre deployment, leaving it somewhat behind on the European stage.
Now, however, the tide is changing and, as Backman puts it, the German market is “on the rebound”. Partly driven by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the demand for fibre infrastructure in Germany has surged in the last two years, bringing with it major investment for the national telecoms industry.
“The market is booming right now,” explained Backman. “The sheer development, the number of new players, and the amount of capital flowing into the country has been enormous in the last couple of years.”
For many of Germany’s municipal utility companies, known as Stadtwerke, now would appear to be the perfect time to further their fibre broadband ambitions, but the process itself can be daunting. Building a network quickly, efficiently and at scale is a challenge for even the largest operators and many of these challenges are only exacerbated for smaller, regional players.
But while the Stadtwerke are individually relatively small in terms of the national fibre rollout, taken collectively they in fact represent a major potential player in the market.
“The Stadtwerke are key in the German market. There are at least 1,500 of them – not all of them have fibre ambitions but a lot of them do – and they are having to navigate a very complex market right now,” explained Backman.
You can see our full interview with Jan Backman from the link above.
As a result, for Backman and VX Fiber, enabling these Stadtwerke could play a huge role in fulfilling Germany’s fibre ambitions. Leveraging the existing high consumer trust that the Stadtwerke enjoy in their local communities, VX Fiber will seek to bring scalability to these companies, as well as encouraging open access.
“It’s important that we do that in a way that really opens up the freedom for ISPs and provide a large choice for the end users,” said Backman.
Part of the focus here is on maximising the efficiency of existing and planned infrastructure, something that can only be achieved through a collaborative, rather than competitive, approach to the Stadtwerke.
“Being able to utilise what’s already in the ground – being able to collaborate around ducts, new projects, and co-investments – will be very important,” explained Jan. “We believe there is a win-win situation where we collaborate with the Stadtwerke on equal terms, rather than simply running them over, as has been in the case in some aspects of the market.”
With this collaboration in mind, VX Fiber are planning a special pre-event day ahead of this year’s Connected Britain conference in Mainz, Germany. Stadtwerke representatives from around the country are invited to attend the event and join the discussion, set to share practical insights for digital infrastructure business models and a cooperative approach to fibre deployment.
“We will talk about very concrete tools and in fact the whole toolbox for the Stadtwerke, including open access and how to involve local property companies in full fibre rollouts, as well as the commercial, technical, and legal changes that have happened over the past two years,” said Backman. “There are very exciting years ahead of us."