Discussion Papers

Franz Büllingen, Peter Stamm in co-operation with Prof. Dr.-Ing. Peter Vary, Helge E. Lüders und Marc Werner (RWTH Aachen)

Potenziale alternativer Techniken zur bedarfsgerechten Versorgung mit Breitbandzugängen

Nr. 280 / September 2006


Broadband internet has become a basic infrastructure of our daily life. Enterprises, public authorities as well as business and private users are enabled to create additional value by the new communications medium. Due to empirical analyses the multitude of changes in microeconomic processes leads to higher value creation and gains in efficiency even in a macroeconomic perspective.

The increasing economic and social importance of broadband internet raises the question whether access platforms are available nationwide. The “Broadband Coverage Atlas” published by the German Government instead reveals a great deal of areas, where broadband internet is not accessible. So it is of political interest, how these gaps can be filled and which technologies might contribute to increase coverage and infrastructurebased competition.

The Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) has assigned WIK-Consult, to analyse the technical potentials and capabilities especially of wireless transmission platforms such as WLAN, WiMAX, Portable DSL/UMTS-TDD, UMTS/HSPA and Satellite. The analysis should also comprise broadband cable networks and Powerline Communications.

Our investigation reveals, that particularly cable network infrastructure will contribute to infrastructure-based competition within the next years due to the large investments of their owners. Seven million cable households have been passed until 2005, of which 320.000 had been connected to broadband internet. The announcements of cable network operators to accelerate digitisation and switch-over to full service bi-directional networks indicate, that the importance of cable networks fostering competition between broadband internet access platforms will grow rapidly.

With regard to areas still lacking internet access, it becomes clear, that UMTS/HSPA and WiMAX fit the most to increase broadband internet coverage in OPAL/HYTAS and rural areas, taking their limited range of coverage and transmission capacity into account. Furthermore market potentials for WiMAX are given in municipal areas without DSL and CATV.

In rural areas the realisation of sustainable business models depends on whether critical masses will be reached. Especially in sparsely populated regions the return on investment will become a critical success factor. It seams not to be unlikely, that unfortunate topographic conditions extend the costs for rolling out networks. In this case parts of uncovered areas might stay without broadband internet access even in the long run. From this point of view it will be of great interest to observe market penetration of Wi- MAX after the frequency auction in 2006. The great interest of investors though seams to indicate, that in 2007 a new nationwide infrastructure for broadband internet access will be created. [full text available in German only]

Diskussion Paper is available for download.

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