January 12, 2015
German cable operator Tele Columbus has stolen a march on its broadband rivals by announcing plans to launch a 400Mbit/s service in April.
The service will initially be made available in the Brandenburg state capital of Potsdam, where some 40,000 households are currently connected to Tele Columbus AG 's city network, but a rollout to other regions is planned.
Germany's broadband operators have been fighting it out on the connection speeds they offer consumers. Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD)-owned Kabel Deutschland GmbH launched a 200Mbit/s service in November last year, while telecom incumbent Telekom Deutschland GmbH has been rolling out vectoring-enabled VDSL infrastructure to improve its own broadband capabilities. (See Speed Battle Rages in Germany.)
Tele Columbus is essentially promising to double the connection speeds available through Kabel Deutschland -- which appears to provide the highest-speed service in the market right now -- although its 400Mbit/s service will initially be available to fewer households than the recent high-speed offers from its chief rivals.
Kabel Deutschland launched its 200Mbit/s service in the cities of Koblenz, Saarbrücken and Wilhelmshaven in November last year, promising to extend it to 1.8 million households by March and 3 million by September.
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Telekom Deutschland, meanwhile, was thought to have deployed 100Mbit/s services to around 200,000 households by late 2013. The operator has been investing heavily in vectoring, which allows VDSL technology to realize its full potential on speed by cutting out the interference between lines.
Marketing itself as Germany's third-biggest cable operator, behind Kabel Deutschland and Unitymedia GmbH , Tele Columbus provides broadband, telephony and TV services to around 1.7 million households.
While Telekom Deutschland claimed to serve more than 12 million broadband customers in September 2014, it has been losing market share to cable operators touting faster connections, and the latest Tele Columbus announcement could increase the pressure on it to invest in much costlier fiber-to-the-home networks in parts of Germany.
A hybrid router that Telekom Deutschland introduced in late 2013 is supposed to boost connection speeds by combining bandwidth from fixed and mobile network technologies. Originally, the operator suggested this would support download speeds of up to 200 Mbit/s, but it has recently been much more coy about the precise improvement the router will deliver.
Tele Columbus is using DOCSIS 3.0 technology to support the 400Mbit/s service, suggesting the operator may be able to support even higher-speed connections once the DOCSIS 3.1 standard becomes available. (See The Chips Fall for DOCSIS 3.1 .)
At the time of publication, Tele Columbus had not responded to queries about the impact that DOCSIS 3.1 might have.
News of the 400Mbit/s launch emerged just days after Tele Columbus had indicated it was on course for an IPO on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in the first half of 2015. It expects to raise at least €300 million (US$361 million) from the listing. (See Eurobites: Tele Columbus Closes In On IPO and Tele Columbus Updates Its IPO Plans and Tele Columbus Announces IPO.)
— Iain Morris, News Editor, Light Reading
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