Fiber-optic infrastructure, often seen as the ultimate conduit for high-bandwidth broadband, is also viewed as too costly for lower density populations. But Deutsche Telekom wants to change that picture with a new program that will bring fiber-to-the-home services to smaller German towns.
From December 2017 through February 2018, residents of Bad Staffelstein can register for a fiber optic line. If Deutsche Telekom receives at least 750 orders, the service provider will build out a fiber optic network before the year's end, according to a post by DT blogger Philipp Blank. The service provider expects to make a similar offer to small towns in four other federal states in early 2018.
To reduce costs, DT will use microtrenching technology that eliminates the need to dig large trenches. Rather, the provider or its sub-contractors will mill narrow grooves into the road or sidewalk, saving both time and money and reducing disturbance to the community.
Google Fiber has been using microtrenching in some of its cities, said then-CEO Greg McCray during Fiber Connect 2017 in Orlando in June.
"We're doing a lot of shallow trenching so we don't have to worry about the poles, we don't have to go three or four feet boring underground," he said. "We've been doing microtrenching. We've been working with our fiber cities, with the communities and city managers, getting permits and trials, and much, much, much faster and [with] a lot less disruption to the neighborhoods and communities."
But DT is not only increasing fiber deployment in smaller towns. The service provider plans to lay 40,000 kilometers (24,900 miles) of new fiber optic cables this year, up 10,000 km (6,200 miles) from its original plan. Currently, DT has 455,000 km (282,700 miles) of fiber. In 2018, DT expects to deploy 60,000 km (37,300 miles) of fiber.
This investment in fiber comes three months after DT wrote an open letter in response to allegations from main competitor Vodafone and German regulators that accused Germany's incumbent service provider of preferring less costly technologies to fiber to the detriment of its customers. (See DT Fights Back.)
DT is not, however, solely deploying fiber. It is only one of several technologies available to the service provider to deploy ultra-broadband to residential and enterprise customers, Niek Jan van Damme, head of Deutsche Telekom's business operations in Germany, said in the blog.
"We deliberately chose to focus initially on building out fiber infrastructure to the cable distribution boxes and using vectoring as this allowed us to rapidly cover large areas of Germany with high-speed Internet lines," he said. "The second phase will be to bring optical fiber closer to homes."
— Alison Diana, Editor, UBB2020. Follow us on Twitter @UBB2020 or @alisoncdiana.