German cable operator Unitymedia aims to provide over 1.3 million households with its DOCSIS 3.1-based 1Gbps high-speed internet access by the end of 2018, CEO Winni Rapp told Broadband TV News.
This corresponds to more than 10% of the households served by Unitymedia. Most recently, Frankfurt was added as the second Gigabit city after Bochum. Cologne and Düsseldorf will follow in December 2018, according to Rapp. Rapp did not yet want to say how the Gigabit expansion will continue in 2019.
A decision on the planned acquisition of Unitymedia by Vodafone is expected in mid-2019. The precondition is approval by the competition authorities. The Federal German Cartel Office announced today that it will request the transfer of the case from the European Commission to the German authority. “We are in a good, constructive dialogue with the authorities and are confident that the outcome of the case will be positive,” said Rapp.
The long-standing legal dispute with German public broadcasters ARD and ZDF over the controversial issue of carriage fees also ended with a positive result. Following the agreement with ARD on a new, long-term distribution contract, Unitymedia also reached an agreement with ZDF in September 2018.
As part of the settlement of the legal dispute, ZDF will pay Unitymedia €11.7 million euros in carriage fees retrospectively, confirmed Rapp. ARD pays €31.2 million. The figures are unveiled in the quarterly reports of parent company Liberty Global.
With a view to further developments in Q3 2018, Rapp said that Unitymedia had now converted all its internet customers to the new basic speed of 30Mbps which took place “faster than expected”. The free upgrade had received a very positive response from customers and increased customer satisfaction, said Rapp.
Over 80% of new customers now sign up for a data rate of 150Mbps or more. In September 2018, as many as one-third opted for the current maximum speed of 400Mbps which Unitymedia offers on its entire network outside the Gigabit cities.
The high speeds are also being used. Unitymedia customers consume an average of 179GB per month, twice as much as the average internet customer in Germany (90GB), said Rapp. “We are proud of that.”
Meanwhile network expansion continues. Since the start of the GigaBuild initiative in 2015, Unitymedia has connected more than half a million new households to its cable network. In Q3 2018 alone, 34,000 households were added. Rapp stressed that the footprint would be continuously extended.
16,000 Unitymedia customers opted for multimedia box Horizon in Q3 2018. In total, 770,000 of the more than 6 million Unitymedia customers now use the device. This corresponds to 12% of all TV customers.
In Switzerland, Liberty Global subsidiary UPC introduced the new Ultra HD/4K-capable digital receiver UPC TV Box on October 4, 2018. Rapp did not want to specify whether or when the Horizon successor will be deployed in Germany.