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Deutsche Telekom to share fibre with Vodafone

German monopoly rules in Christmas rewrite

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Deutsche Telekom (DT), Germany's incumbent telco, has agreed to cooperate with at least one rival on next generation broadband investment, following political pressure from Brussels.

The European Commission has argued for years that DT's plan not to allow competitors wholesale access to new internet infrastructure - a potential monopoly which was backed by the German government - violated European anti-trust rules. The Commission is suing the German administration at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg over the row.

Yesterday, DT said it would work with Vodafone on rollout of VDSL (which, the Financial Times informs us, "can support download speeds of up to 50MB" [sic]) to pilot towns.

Vodafone will lay fibre to street side cabinets in Heilbronn, and DT will do the same in Würzburg. They will both then allow the other wholesale access.

The move towards allowing competitors to use its infrastructure represents something of a climbdown for DT, although it has extracted significant investment from Vodafone in return.

DT said it would be open to working with other rivals too, but did not provide any details. The Vodafone partnership will begin in 2009.

In the UK there is no prospect of regulators allowing BT exclusive access to fibre it lays in the coming years. Our incumbent is however in the process of lobbying for greater control than it has over the current infrastructure, which was opened up to local loop unbundling with the formation of Openreach in 2002. ®

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