May 19, 2020

Why have Deutsche Telekom's copper wire bundles annoyed Vodafone?

European Commission
Deutsche Telekom
European competition regulator
3 min
Why have Deutsche Telekom's copper wire bundles annoyed Vodafone?

German telecoms giant Deutsche Telekom (DT) plans to use its existing copper wire infrastructure to upgrade homes and offices across the country to superfast fibre optic broadband, a move which has annoyed rival operators.

Vodafone has voiced its concern about the harm this would have on competition. Its major gripe is that by using vectoring technology as part of the proposed upgrade, DT will have to effectively bundle several copper wires at once. This means that individual wires, which provide access to alternative operators, will not be able to be unbundled.

The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation of the German telecoms regulator's (BNetzA's) intention to allow Deutsche Telekom to upgrade its network with vectoring technology in areas close to DT's exchanges, having previously been prohibited.

In particular, the Commission has concerns about the potential impact of BNetzA's current proposal on the development of sustainable competition and on longer term incentives for investment in future-oriented networks for the Gigabit Society.

Vectoring technology can upgrade copper networks to bring higher broadband speeds. It is used as an intermediary upgrade technology instead of the deployment of optical fibre networks. However, the technology currently only works when it is applied to an entire bundle of copper cables.

At the current state of technological development, this prevents the physical "unbundling" of individual subscriber lines by alternative operators. Instead of physical unbundling, alternative operators would be offered two alternative, active or "virtual" access products, both of which give rise to concerns from the likes of Vodafone.

The Commission recognises that BNetzA's proposal would lead to broadband speed gains in parts of Germany (of the six million households affected, approximately 1.4 million would receive speeds above 50 Mbit/s for the first time). However, the proposal is likely to have a considerably restricting effect on alternative operators who buy access from DT to compete in serving end users.

In the view of the EU regulators, the alternative access solutions offered by BNetzA are not yet sufficient to ensure an appropriate safeguarding of competition, including competition to invest, both now and in the future.

BNetzA's draft plan makes it highly likely that only DT could install the vectoring technology which would serve more than 90 percent of the six million households in question. The main alternative method through which competitors could gain access to the last mile of the subscriber line (a Layer-2 Bitstream product at around 900 Broadband Network Gateways in Germany) is in BNetzA's own view not (yet) a functional equivalent to physical unbundling due to technical restrictions in the product design. This would deny DTs' competitors the degree of control needed to differentiate their retail offers and enhance consumer choice. The other option (a higher-specification virtual unbundling product at affected street cabinets) would place physical and economic limitations on access by alternative operators which are likely to weaken competitive pressure in the short term.

The EC now has three months to discuss the case with BNetzA in order to remove any elements giving rise to serious doubts as to compliance with EU law. 

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Jun 18, 2021

GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud

3 min
VMware has been walking GfK along its path through digital transformation to the cloud for over a decade.

GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.  

In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade. 

“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.

Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.

By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.

One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.

“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.

Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs. 

“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.

The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment. 

The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.

One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.

“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.

“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client. 

“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”

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