Kassel. A fast broadband connection is increasingly becoming an important factor for commercial and industrial customers looking for a suitable location. More and more private customers too are taking into account the Internet connection when choosing somewhere to live. Cities and districts with a well developed digital infrastructure have a clear advantage here. In order to remain competitive in the future, MEGA Monheim Elektrizitäts- und Gasversorgung GmbH began equipping the entire town with glass fiber cables in the spring of 2015. Monheim lies between Düsseldorf and Leverkusen and has around 41,000 inhabitants. What is special about the project is the fact that the connection to the fiber optic (FO) network is provided by MEGA free of charge and installation takes place in users' houses. The router too is supplied free of charge. In recognition of its efforts, MEGA Monheim even won an award in the renowned "NRW-Wirtschaft im Wandel 2016" competition – as one of 20 companies who are spearheading structural change in North Rhine-Westphalia.
The extensive development project comprises around 5,300 glass fiber connections and should be completed by 2020. Around 180 kilometers of glass fiber cabling will then have been laid. "The project is very well accepted by the public. People have even asked us when we'll be coming around and laying the cables. Within a short time, glass fiber technology has become an important part of our business. In the past year alone, our workforce has virtually doubled in number," says Udo Jürkenbeck, Managing Director of MEGA Monheim GmbH.
Reduced-price gas connection and heating contracting
The development of glass fiber technology is also resulting in synergy effects for Monheim residents when selling natural gas. While developing its glass fiber business, MEGA is also offering residents a reduced-price gas connection and a tailored heating contracting service. For 999 euros instead of 2,400 euros, MEGA staff will connect a property to the local gas network. This has gone down very well with local residents. To date, MEGA Monheim has received more than 400 requests for gas connections and approx. 310 properties have already been connected. The number of contracting contracts is growing too. In 2015, 26 contracts were concluded. In 2016, 28 contracts for MEGA's natural gas supply and maintenance service were signed. "The offer has gone down extremely well. When the glass fiber project is completed in 2020, we'll have gained around 1,000 new gas customers. Every contract concluded is important. After all, this results in lasting customer loyalty and our customers can take advantage of a modern, highly efficient heating system without having to make investments themselves," emphasizes Peter Norf, Marketing Manager at MEGA Monheim.
Monheim uses WINGAS glass fiber cables
MEGA Monheim came up with the idea of offering a heating contracting product along with the glass fiber connection around two years ago when it was looking at smart metering. Because MEGA Monheim has sourced 100 percent of its natural gas from WINGAS since 1997, contact with the company's FO division was quickly established. In addition to trading in natural gas, WINGAS also markets fiber-optic cable capacities to telecommunication companies. Since 2014, WINGAS has been leasing glass fiber cables in the WINGAS backbone to MEGA Monheim. MEGA itself is responsible for providing the system technology and the connection to Monheim. MEGA currently has around 440 customers in the FO network.
With the combination of innovative transmission technology and modern gas condensing heating, MEGA Monheim is making the town of Monheim considerably more attractive. The town itself becomes more desirable as a place to live while the properties there are doubly enhanced. Michael Cremer, Telecommunications Sales Manager at WINGAS GmbH, welcomes the decision: "Glass fiber technology is the benchmark now and more and more people are realizing this. Through the comprehensive development of its FTTH broadband network, MEGA Monheim is going exactly the right route. It is also taking on a pioneering role with its contracting model which means it is well positioned for the future. Other municipal utility companies are lagging two years behind."
More information on WINGAS' fiber optic services can be found at: www.wingas-lwl.de.