'Wonder Weapon' Fiber Optic: Fast Internet for Everyone

Interview with Detlef Katzschmann, Managing Director of e.discom Telekommunikation GmbH

Detlef Katzschmann, Managing Director of e.discom Telekommunikation GmbH
Detlef Katzschmann, Managing Director of e.discom Telekommunikation GmbH

Today, fiber optics stand for THE future-oriented telecommunication. e.discom Telekommunikation GmbH in Eberswalde builds high-performance fiber optic networks in Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and offers products, services, and customized solutions for business customers. Managing Director Detlef Katzschmann discusses with Wirtschaftsforum why there will be nothing after fiber optics and expresses the desire for fast internet – but please without tearing up the streets.

Wirtschaftsforum: Mr. Katzschmann, what have been the milestones in the history of e.discom?

Detlef Katzschmann: Our predecessor company was founded in 1996. Two things were essential for the development of e.discom: the liberalization of the telecommunications market, which made our activities possible in the first place, and that we consistently focused on fiber optics from the start. So, we have been building fiber optic networks and fiber optic connections for over 25 years. This is also due to historical reasons, as we are a subsidiary of an energy provider that needs the fiber optic connection to control the facilities of the gas and electricity networks. Another important milestone was in 1999, the merging of the four telecommunications subsidiaries of various energy providers that existed at that time in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Brandenburg. We have primarily established ourselves in the business customer market. In 2012, we integrated the construction and operation of the infrastructure.

Network area of e.discom Telekommunikation GmbH
The network area of e.discom Telekommunikation GmbH, based in Eberswalde

In 2018, we entered the subsidized broadband expansion and successfully applied for the expansion areas. Due to the expansion of our network size, we can now also connect private customers to the network. e.discom is a company that is constantly evolving and trying out technologies early on, but also discards them if they no longer fit. This willingness to change distinguishes us. We have always remained true to our DNA, bringing fiber optic to the last mile.

Wirtschaftsforum: What makes fiber optic so special?

Detlef Katzschmann: Fiber optic is an incredibly efficient transport medium. If one could centralize the entire internet traffic of Germany to one point, only a single fiber would be needed. The active transmission technology is capable of transmitting such a huge volume of data over just one fiber. Once fiber optic is laid in the ground, you never have to touch it again, provided it is not physically destroyed. In active transmission technology, there are constantly new technologies. But fiber optic will remain as a transport medium. It is an absolutely sustainable solution.

e-discom - Working on the Splicing Machine
Working on the Splicing Machine
e-discom - Fiber optic work on a ground joint
Fiber optic work on a ground joint

Wirtschaftsforum: Do you always encounter approval from the public when expanding the fiber optic network?

Detlef Katzschmann: At citizens' meetings, we keep hearing: Yes, we need fast internet. But when I say that this means we have to dig up the sidewalk or bike path again to lay a cable, then concerns arise. Society needs a better understanding that laying pipes and cables is necessary for fast internet. Much more information work is needed here. I would also like to see that an existing fiber optic network is not overbuilt by other providers or that a second or third network is constructed. As long as not every citizen, household, and business customer in Germany can be securely connected to the internet via a fiber optic connection, we have a completely different problem than building a second, third, or fourth network. Competition should rather take place at the service level, as in Sweden. There, all service providers can offer their products on the same infrastructure. That should also be the goal in Germany.

Wirtschaftsforum: How is the company positioned today?

Detlef Katzschmann: In addition to Eberswalde, we have other locations in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Brandenburg. For our claim is to be able to be present at any network point within two hours. e.discom employs a total of around 200 employees.

Wirtschaftsforum: What vision do you have for e.discom?

Detlef Katzschmann: We want to increase the utilization of our networks. With private customers, we still feel a certain reluctance. I also see our company as an important component in the energy transition in terms of controlling the energy network.

Wirtschaftsforum: Finally, can you tell us: What is your personal motivation?

Detlef Katzschmann: The topic of telecommunications is not only exciting but also very positively perceived. There is a huge demand among the population, therefore we make a societal contribution with our offer. That gives me tremendous pleasure. In addition, I see a lot of potential in terms of how we can evolve technologically as well as culturally and become better.