Gigabit Region Stuttgart, Deutsche Telekom Partner to drive Fiber Optic Expansion

Deutsche Telekom

The Gigabit Region Stuttgart GmbH has signed a cooperation agreement with Deutsche Telekom. The agreement essentially aims to expand the high-speed internet. The partners also want to plug gaps in the mobile communications network and develop the region into a pilot for the future communication standard 5G.

In the presence of Baden-Württemberg Minister President Winfried Kretschmann, and of Thomas Strobl, Baden-Württemberg Interior and Digitization Minister, Hans-Jürgen Bahde, Managing Director of Gigabit Region Stuttgart GmbH (GRS), signed the cooperation agreement in Fellbach with Dr. Dirk Wössner, Member of the Board of Management Deutsche Telekom, and Walter Goldenits, Managing Director Telekom Deutschland. This agreement sets out the basic conditions for the cooperation.

The gigabit project focuses on the partnership aimed at upgrading the high-speed fiber-optic network. By 2025, 99 percent of the population will also be able to use mobile communications (LTE). The plan also envisages the rapid rollout of a powerful 5G network. The agreement is unprecedented anywhere in Germany on this scale. Other businesses should be able to use the resulting digital infrastructure under fair, generally accepted market conditions.

The expansion area currently covers 174 municipalities in the City of Stuttgart as well as in the five neighboring districts Böblingen, Esslingen, Göppingen, Ludwigsburg, and Rems-Murr. Around 2.8 million people live in the conurbation. Some 140,000 businesses are based there.

The Stuttgart region and Deutsche Telekom announced their joint expansion targets back in July 2018: The aim is to provide all enterprises with internet access over fiber optic through 2025. Through 2030 the plan is for 90 percent of households to benefit from the expansion. Over the same period, Deutsche Telekom and the municipalities are planning joint investments running into billions.

“A universal fiber optic-based, gigabit-capable broadband network is the future lifeline of innovation, economic success, and quality of life. So I enthusiastically welcome the joint initiative between the Stuttgart region and Deutsche Telekom to implement the extensive expansion with an ambitious, yet necessary timetable,” said Winfried Kretschmann.

GRS Managing Director Hans-Jürgen Bahde commented: “Today’s signing shows that the idea of expanding telecommunications together was the right one. Thanks to one of the largest cooperative fiber-optic upgrade programs in Europe, the cities and municipalities in the Stuttgart region are now getting a universal expansion plan for fiber to the home – that is unprecedented anywhere in Germany.”

Telekom Deutschland Managing Director, Dr. Dirk Wössner said: “The many conversations locally have paid off. They have given rise to an agreement that we are now bringing to life. We are keen to get started. And when we do, we are counting on the support of residents and local decision-makers. To digitalize Germany, we need the kind of conditions that allow us to roll out the fiber optic fast – jointly, pragmatically, unbureaucratically. There is still quite a bit to do in this respect.”

“This cooperation agreement provides the fiber-optic upgrade with an enormous boost in the entire Stuttgart region,” commented the Chairman of the association Verband Region Stuttgart and member of the GRS Supervisory Board, Thomas Bopp. “The Gigabit Region Stuttgart will make the Stuttgart region more sustainable as a place to live and do business.”

“For many companies high-speed internet is already an important competitive factor that is set to become even more important. The agreement with Deutsche Telekom is therefore not just a milestone in digitalization, but more than that, it is a milestone in regional development,” commented Dr. Walter Rogg, Managing Director Stuttgart Region Economic Development Corporation (WRS) and Chair of the Supervisory Board of Gigabit Region Stuttgart GmbH (GRS).

“An efficient, sustainable fiber-optic upgrade in Stuttgart and the region will guarantee its future viability as a place to do business. Our most pressing task is to connect underserved areas up to the high-speed internet and to connect up industry, trade companies, and service providers,” said Fritz Kuhn, Mayor of the state capital of Stuttgart and GRS Supervisory Board member.

Thomas Strobl, Deputy Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg and Interior and Digitization Minister, also welcomed the agreement: “The universal fiber-optic upgrade in the Stuttgart region and throughout Baden-Württemberg will only succeed if everyone involved works together shoulder to shoulder. The state is investing hugely in the broadband infrastructure. But without the private telecommunications companies we will not achieve our goal. That’s why I welcome the collaboration between private and public sector and I wish the project every success.”

The partners have gone for a two-stage model. GRS coordinates the overall expansion in the region and is managing the cooperation with Deutsche Telekom. It is developing standardized processes and technical standards. GRS is also concluding framework and master agreements and mediates where conflicts arise between municipalities and Deutsche Telekom. The five districts involved have already set up their own special-purpose associations. Together with the state capital and the Stuttgart Region Economic Development Corporation, the five special-purpose associations form the GRS.

These special-purpose associations advise and accompany the district authorities as part of the expansion. They also help apply for funding and provide planning data, by setting up and maintaining central ductwork management for instance.

The partners aim to expand the network in all five districts in the first few years. The annual expansion plan states to what extent the fiber optic is rolled out, when, and in which of the 174 municipalities this happens. The cooperation partners define this planning based on several aspects. Decisive issues include the existing supply of bandwidth or the expansion costs. These depend on factors such as the geographic structure of the municipalities. It is also important whether infrastructure is available.

To roll out the infrastructure in the cities and communities, a sufficient number of residents must opt for a fiber-optic line beforehand. Prior to the expansion, Deutsche Telekom therefore determines the demand based on pre-marketing. Just like at present in six cities where around 25,000 households can get fiber to the home: Allmersbach im Tal, Bad Cannstatt, Bempflingen, Ditzingen-Heimerdingen, Deggingen-Reichenbach im Täle, and Weil der Stadt.

Deutsche Telekom operates the largest fiber-optic network in Germany with over 500,000 kilometers. Every year the Bonn-based company invests more than five billion euros in Germany’s infrastructure. As of 2021, Deutsche Telekom aims to connect two million households a year direct to the fiber-optic network. To digitalize Germany, the company is increasingly embracing new collaboration models. Over the past few months, Deutsche Telekom announced joint initiatives with the Saarland utility VSE and competitor Telefónica. Together with power utility EWE Tel, Deutsche Telekom also intends to set up the company  “NorthWest Optical Fiber”.