Fiber optic expansion: Bundeskartellamt approves joint venture between Telekom and EWE

The Bundeskartellamt gave the go-ahead for a large-scale project with a model character when it comes to fiber optic Internet expansion. The authority released the joint venture between Deutsche Telekom and the Oldenburg regional provider EWE, it said on Monday in Bonn. The cooperation will "lead to significant improvements on the telecommunications markets in the affected region and also in rural areas," said Cartel Office chief Andreas Mundt.

The former state-owned company and the regional top dog can now tackle the expansion of the expensive fiber optic cables together – so far they have been competitors. Here, however, they have to meet the requirements of the Cartel Office, according to which competitors are allowed to use their lines and very high investments have to be made. Despite the concessions, the merger is likely to put pressure on competitors like Vodafone.

Telekom and EWE want to supply up to 1.5 million households and company locations in Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia and Bremen with fiber optic connections to the house (FTTH; Fiber To The Home) with their joint venture "Glasfaser Nordwest". The partners plan to invest up to two billion euros over a period of around ten years. Telekom and EWE had announced that they would rapidly expand the fiber optic networks in the northwest and also open them up to third parties.

At the beginning of December, Mundt had already given consent to another part of the cooperation. The Bundeskartellamt has been examining the project since March 2019. The Bonn competition authorities had previously feared, among other things, that the cooperation could have "slowed down the expansion". The joint venture between the two strongest telecommunications providers in the regions concerned could have delayed the expansion because the competitive pressure was subdued. However, both companies had committed to the Bundeskartellamt to expand rapidly at the beginning of December and also want to open their network to competitors. There was talk of expanding at least 300,000 connections to the end customer over the next four years without resorting to public funding.

(with material from dpa) /


. (tagsToTranslate) Deutsche Telekom (t) EWE (t) FTTH (t) glass fiber