Germany turns triple play

Cablers invest in Web, phone, TV

Germany's cable network operators plan to invest more than half a billion euros this year in developing new triple-play — Internet, telephone and TV — offerings for German customers.

That's according to a report released Wednesday by the German Association of Cable Cos., which forecasts an investment of €512 million ($687 million) in triple-play products this year, compared with the €365 million that such cable companies as Kabel Deutschland, Kabel BW and Unity Media invested in such services in 2006.

German cable groups are targeting traditional telephone firms like Deutsche Telekom, which has been expanding onto cable's turf by offering Internet television and other entertainment services.

According to the German cable association, the number of Germans receiving broadband Internet access over cable lines jumped from 114,000 to 390,000 last year. Customers taking advantage of telephone services via cable climbed from just 63,000 to 293,000.

Kabel Deutschland spokesman Christoph Wahl said increased competition between cable and telephone providers for broadband Internet services is needed if Germany is to catch up with such territories as the U.S. and the Netherlands, which have significantly higher rates of broadband penetration.