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Watchdog rejects concerns about Deutsche Telekom broadband plan

A foam logo of Germany's telecommunications giant Deutsche Telekom AG, flies in the sky at the world's biggest computer and software fair CeBit in Hanover, Germany, March 14, 2016. REUTERS/Nigel Treblin

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany's telecoms industry regulator rejected rivals' concerns on Thursday about Deutsche Telekom's plan to spend a billion euros ($1 bln) on equipping its national copper network for high-speed broadband services.

Competitors such as Vodafone and United Internet say the move, using a technology called vectoring, will prevent them from offering differentiated services to customers in inner cities, demoting them to mere resellers.

The regulator made some concessions, including allowing rivals to install their own equipment in more urban areas, but rejected the argument that the money would have been better spent on newer technology such as fiber optic networks.

"The competition will not be impaired, neither will other technologies be curtailed," said Bundesnetzagentur President Jochen Homann.

The project is designed to support the political goal of closing Germany's gap in consumer Internet speeds with other European countries, such as Sweden and Britain.

The final decision now falls to the European Commission, which has until mid-May to raise any objections.

The German regulator gave preliminary approval to Deutsche Telekom's plan in November. It said on Thursday its final approval came after a thorough investigation.

Vectoring prolongs the lifetime of copper networks, which were built before former state monopolies like Deutsche Telekom were privatized.

It can increase broadband download speeds to around 100 megabits per second, not as fast as optic fiber or cable but at far lower cost.

(Reporting by Peter Maushagen; Writing by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Susan Fenton)