Leading portal and high-speed Internet access company Excite@Home (Nasdaq: ATHM) announced Wednesday that it will create a joint venture with a German cable operator and its parent company to bring high-speed cable Internet access to 2.2 million German homes.
The joint venture between Excite@Home, cable operator Tele-Columbus and its parent company, Deutsche Bank Investor, will be called @Home Deutschland. It is eventually expected to attract other cable operators in Europe’s most populous country.
The companies say that @Home Deutschland will offer German Internet users a rich selection of broadband content and application such as news video-on-demand, CD-quality audio, high-speed games, software downloading and lightning-fast Internet access.
“With 11 million Internet users, Germany is an extremely promising market for high-speed cable Internet services to the PC and other devices,” said Excite@Home Senior VP John O’Farrell. “This proposed venture is a tremendous next step in @Home’s European expansion.”
A Country a Month
With this announcement, Excite@Home is moving at a rapid pace to establish an international presence. In April, it announced plans to form @Home Japan with Jupiter Telecommunications and the Sumitomo Corporation. In May, it launched @Home Nederland, its new Dutch service. In June, the company announced plans to launch @Home Australia with Cable&Wireless Optus.
Germany is the continent’s largest and most potentially lucrative Internet market. Jupiter Communications reported in July that the country has approximately 7.5 million Internet users. Jupiter predicted that the figure would rocket to 27.4 million by 2003, with 40 percent of those buying goods online.
By 2002, Jupiter predicts that Germans will be spending $782 million online (US$) on air travel, $674 million on books, $216 million on music and $174 million on computer software.
Excite@Home is keenly aware of those predictions and is intent on getting as many Germans online as possible. The company said that the @Home Deutschland venture will be structured to extend to other cable operators, including regional cable companies that investors could acquire from Deutsche Telekom.
Deutsche Telekom, the country’s largest cable operator, has been selling off its regional cable assets in recent months.
Excite@Home announced earlier this week that it will form an online auction network with Microsoft, TicketMaster Online-City Search and Fair Market that is capable of reaching 46 million visitors.
In August, it announced a sum total of $45 million in investments in biztravel.com, E-Stamp, WebMD and Webstakes.com.
Earlier in the summer, Excite@Home led a $85 million investment in online ticket broker Tickets.com.