Deutsche Telekom has been given the go-ahead to upgrade its broadband network with vectoring technology, but only if competitors are given alternative means of access.

Vectoring is a means of upgrading copper lines to give consumers higher speeds. It is a more cost effective way of improving networks without laying down fibre.

However, rivals have attacked Deutsche Telekom for the move, claiming it was an attempt to remonopolise the market. Vectoring prevents the physical "unbundling" of individual subscriber lines.

The German regulator BNetzA was forced to outline fresh proposals to protect the German market after the European Commission launched an investigation into its original decision to rubber stamp the project.

Following a review, the regulator is removing restrictions on how many operators can access street cabinets, as well as granting access to ducts and dark fibre.

The European Commission applauded the revised proposals, which will allow Deutsche Telekom to use vectoring technology in areas of 550m around a local exchange. The Commission said 1.4 million households could benefit from connection speeds of more than 50MBps for the first time.

Günther H. Oettinger, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, said: "As a result of our intervention, the German regulator has drawn a better balance between network upgrade and high quality access for competitors. The additional safeguards BNetzA now proposes protect sustainable competition and create incentives to invest in future-oriented networks for the gigabit society.

"However, further improvements must be made and we will remain vigilant to ensure that they are made."

These improvements mean ensuring competitors have access to "adequate and alternative" means of offering broadband access to customers, because vectoring closes off the wires linking the customers premises to the local exchange.

The Commission also ruled that the regulator should be clearer in outlining the technical specifications for layer-2 virtual access products, which will replace vectoring tech.

A Deutsche Telekom spokesperson said: "We welcome the fact that the EU Commission will not carry out another in-depth review. This is a good sign for the roll-out of local-area vectoring.

"However, without knowing the details, we must look into what will be the impact of linking local-area vectoring with a specific wholesale product, which the EU Commission has added into the equation. This was not provided for in the Federal Network Agency's draft regulation."

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