Deutsche Telekom may be on the verge of launching its hybrid router in markets outside Germany, Light Reading has learned.
The product works by combining bandwidth from fixed and mobile technologies and was introduced in the German incumbent's domestic market in March this year following earlier trials in Montenegro. (See Speed Battle Rages in Germany.)
"Depending on customer demand and market structure, it is possible that we introduce them in markets where we act as an integrated operator," says a spokesperson for Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), hinting that an announcement about hybrid router expansion will be made next week.
The countries in which Deutsche Telekom operates both fixed and mobile networks include Albania, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.
There is a strong likelihood that Deutsche Telekom is eyeing a possible launch of the hybrid router in Greece, where rival Vodafone Greece this week said it was piloting its own hybrid service.
Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) calls the technology "fixed-mobile bonding" and has previously flagged trials in Spain, where it has operated both fixed and mobile networks since acquiring cable operator ONO last year. (See Telefónica's Fiber Fix.)
In Greece, similarly, Vodafone completed its takeover of Hellas Online, a fixed-line company, in November last year, and the operator is clearly looking to take advantage of Hellas Online's capabilities with the bonding service.
In a statement, Vodafone said bonding would allow its customers to make use of broadband services that are twice the speed of normal VDSL connections.
Deutsche Telekom has also previously talked up the potential of hybrid services, even claiming they could support speeds of up to 550 Mbit/s when used in conjunction with super-vectoring, a technology used to "supercharge" last-mile copper connections. (See DT Expands Its Vectoring Commitments.)
"If we get super-vectoring in place that we add then into the router, that's 250 Mbit/s plus 200 Mbit/s on the mobile side -- we get to 550 Mbit/s in that cable footprint," said Bruno Jacobfeuerborn, Deutsche Telekom's chief technology officer, during the operator's capital markets day earlier this year.
Deutsche Telekom continues to face tough competition from cable operators providing higher-speed services -- with Tele Columbus AG now marketing a 400Mbit/s offering in some parts of the country -- and it suggested as far back as 2012 that hybrid technology could help it to address this challenge. (See Tele Columbus to Launch 400Mbit/s Service.)
Since then, however, the German incumbent's messages around hybrid technology have been somewhat contradictory. During this year's Mobile World Congress, CEO Timotheus Höttges told Light Reading that hybrid is "not the answer to cable" competition and that it would mainly be used to boost broadband connectivity in rural areas. (See DT's Höttges Says Hybrid Is 'Not Answer to Cable'.)
Moreover, take-up of the hybrid router has been modest. Reporting on its third-quarter results earlier this month, Deutsche Telekom indicated that just 109,000 of its 12.6 million broadband customers were using the technology.
Deutsche Telekom also faces the possibility of some unwelcome regulation on this front. A small rival called 1&1 Telecom has asked German regulatory authorities to make Deutsche Telekom offer a wholesale hybrid service, which would include access to Deutsche Telekom's 4G network.
"Although there are good arguments on our side when we claim that competitors can replicate our hybrid product without a wholesale service to be provided by Telekom Deutschland [Deutsche Telekom's domestic brand], we cannot rule out the regulatory risk of the Federal Network Agency approving 1&1's request at least to some extent," said Deutsche Telekom in its last earnings report.
— Iain Morris, , News Editor, Light Reading