NetCologne: The Pioneer of Access in Germany

Release Date:2018-08-16  Author:By Li Panfeng, Hu Jicheng  Click:

ZTE and Germany's leading regional network operator NetCologne reached a strategic partnership in the field of access networks, using an innovative solution to achieve Gigabit access. In the world's first demonstration of MHz being tested over a real network in Germany in May 2017, ZTE and NetCologne showcased the access rate profile of MHz reaching up to 1.8 Gbps. The solution enables NetCologne's fibre-to-the-building (FTTB) -access network to enter the Gigabit era.

NetCologne: A Leading Regional Network Operator in Germany
NetCologne, a subsidiary of utility company GEW Koln, was founded in 1994 and is based in the Cologne region of Germany. Now NetCologne has 384,000 fixed broadband subscribers and 224,000 cable TV subscribers, and has installed 23,000 km of fiber. As a regional network operator, NetCologne provides future-proof telecom solutions including fixed-line telephony, internet data, mobile, and cable TV services for residents and business users in Greater Cologne, Bonn, and Aachen regions.
In 2014, NetCologne invested 30 million euros in network infrastructure construction and expansion. It has become Germany’s leading regional network operator by delivering FTTB services with a bandwidth of up to 100 Mbps. However, NetCologne faced tremendous competitive pressure in its main broadband business in 2015. Deutsche Telekom planned to deploy VDSL2 35b that could provide a bandwidth of 250 Mbps for end users. Cable operator Unitymedia would offer end users a bandwidth of 300 Mbps after deploying DOCSIS 3.0/3.1.
Facing the increasingly fierce market competition and growing business demands, NetCologne realized the urgency of improving network capabilities to consolidate its position in the market. To this end, NetCologne proposed a development plan that would provide users with a bandwidth of more than 300 Mbps. By leveraging state-of-the-art optical-copper access technologies, NetCologne successfully reconstructed and upgraded existing DSLAM networks to enhance its overall competitiveness in the market.

NetCologne's Pain Points and Critical Requirements

ZTE helped NetCologne with thorough investigation and assessment of its existing networks. NetCologne had about 35,000 FTTB sites, with fiber to end users' basements via VD2 DSLAM 17a/30a. NetCologne also had 1,400 FTTC sites connected to end users through VD2 DSLAM 17a, covering less densely populated areas. After the assessment, ZTE recommended that NetCologne should use the DPU solution to replace the existing DSLAM, which can not only achieve Gigabit access but also make full use of existing subscriber line cables and DPUs to reduce Capex and shorten the construction period.

In September 2015, NetCologne decided to adopt the DPU solution for reconstructing existing VD2 DSLAM and meeting the following requirements:
● Use to replace original VD2 DSLAM on 3,500 FTTB sites 
● Provide a bandwidth of over 300 Mbps for users
● Support PoE that meets the EU power consumption standard SR2 
● Support flexible uplink and downlink rates to meet user requirements
● Meet the environmental requirements for installation in the basement.

Customized Solution Facilitates Smooth Network Evolution

To meet the need for replacing XDSL devices and reusing subscriber line cables, NetCologne adopted ZTE's customized solution based on actual scenarios. This solution has the following advantages:

● Structure customization: The tailor-made size of new devices allows NetCologne to replace its XDSL devices on the original sites and to reuse its existing cables and power supplies to reduce Capex.

● Energy saving: The design was optimized to meet the EU standard SR2 in PoE application scenarios.
● Uplink bonding: Uplink bonding is used for complete coverage in the areas where fibers are not available.
● over cable: New features are tailor made to meet the needs of cable users. This simplifies network structure and reduces Opex.
● Network upgrade: Hardware is prepared for the MHz technology, which can be implemented through software upgrade. This allows NetCologne to be well prepared for the next-generation network evolution.

NetCologne speaks highly of ZTE's tailor-made solution that can meet its needs for rapid deployment of MHz at the present stage and support smooth evolution to MHz. The solution was tested and accepted by NetCologne Lab in May 2016, and the test data showed that MHz set a new record of 1.8 Gbps. NetCologne officially announced that ZTE was its exclusive supplier, and started a trial over the existing network in August 2016.

“The demand for ultrafast services is constantly growing and we intend to provide NetCologne customers with the best network infrastructure in Germany. With ZTE as a partner we are on the very forefront of technology and highspeed research,” said NetCologne’s CEO Timo von Lepel. Access Helps NetCologne Rebuild Market Leadership
Since 2006, NetCologne has deployed approximately 25,000 km of optical fibers in Cologne and its surrounding areas, rapidly completing the coverage of 260,000 households. The technology greatly accelerated the FTTH process.

In Q4 2017, NetCologne started to provide services, allowing users to enjoy high-speed internet access. NetCologne can flexibly adjust uplink and downlink bandwidths as required by customers. If customers subscribe to the new package, a technician only needs to replace related terminals through the door-to-door service. According to NetCologne's CEO, products with a bandwidth lower than 100 Mbps will no longer be available in the future. The access technology helped NetCologne rebuild its market leadership.

NetCologne will further expand its networks and provide gigabit access services for up to 400,000 households in the next few years. NetCologne will continue to adopt ZTE’s innovative technologies to build gigabit infrastructure in Germany.

[Keywords] NetCologne, access, Germany


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