Last year Germany's Deutsche Telekom AG lost one million customers in the fixed network sector, a reminder of the turmoil the telecommunications branch is currently undergoing. More and more customers are not only surfing the Internet, but are also turning to the net for telephony and in the future will be using it to watch television as well. The pace of this trend towards "Internetisation" of telecommunications will be picking up, according to a study by the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research in Karlsruhe, Germany. The study, "Long-Term Perspectives in Telecommunications (TK2010)" ("Langfristperspektiven der Telekommunikation (TK2010)"), conducted by the Fraunhofer ISI together with the SAP Chair for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Technical University of Dresden on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, also comes to the conclusion that more and more households will be connected with the Internet via optical cable.
The Fraunhofer ISI expects that by the year 2010 up to ten percent of households with Internet will have an extremely fast optical cable connection providing transmission speeds of over 100 megabits per second and which will also be used for telephony and television. In the meantime, in metropolitan areas migration to optical technologies has become economically feasible even for smaller network providers, since the associated technology costs have significantly dropped. There will also be a strong increase in the number of Internet-capable TV cable connections, serving approximately 15 percent of households. The loser here will be DSL, with a market share shrinking from today's 98 percent to 75 percent.
The increasingly common replacement of copper cable connections with fibre optical cable for the household connection will mean a good shake-up for the branch, similar to the upheaval experienced after the liberalisation of the Nineties, ISI project director Dr. Bernd Beckert predicts: "The clear boundaries separating the established sectors and technologies will become blurred, resulting in new collaboration between telecommunications and media corporations, television network providers and Internet service providers."
The complete transition from conventional telephone networks based on copper cable to optical cable reaching all the way to the end-customer will however take until at least 2020, according to the ISI study. By then alternatives such as cable TV networks and mobile technologies such as WLAN and WiMAX will also gain in importance.