The “right to high-speed internet” is at hand. On Wednesday, the Bundestag’s Digital Committee approved the federal government’s proposal with the votes of the traffic light coalition.
Now only the green light is missing from the Federal Council, then the specifications are legally binding. For the first time, consumers are entitled to basic broadband.
In the future, a download speed of at least 10 megabits per second and an upload speed of 1.7 megabits per second should be achieved across Germany. The latency – that is, the response time – should not be greater than 150 milliseconds.
At the end of 2021, the law entered into force, which essentially includes the right to access broadband. However, a related regulation with exact values and specifications for basic broadband is still missing. This set of rules is now as good as decided.
The minimum upload and download values are low, and the latency requirements relatively high – the vast majority of Germans have much better Internet at home. However, in the countryside and on the outskirts of the city, the specifications can still help in some places: if the minimum values are not met there, the Federal Network Agency may organize better connections in the future.
It is unclear how many households are currently using the Internet at less than 10 megabits per second. According to estimates by the Federal Network Agency, 630,000 households have less than 16 megabits per second. There is no estimated value for the 10 Megabits test. With 630 thousand. 300 thousand belongs to areas where the expansion of the Internet is already planned thanks to state subsidies – so there is no need to invoke new legal powers as improvement is already in sight.
According to the Federal Network Agency, there are 330,000 households with very slow internet speeds, below 16 megabits. The new 10 Megabits specification is fine for part of this. In the future, the minimum requirements will increase year by year – the statutory entitlement will also be of interest to households that are currently excluded.
After the vote, the Green MEP Maik Außendorf spoke of a “good day for consumer protection”. The regulation sets out “minimum requirements for digital participation and thus creates a new consumer law,” said the green politician. An undersupplyed household can engage the Federal Network Agency and then oblige businesses to provide basic Internet services at affordable prices. ” This is a novelty in Germany.
Affiliation: Don’t exclude satellites
From the point of view of the opposition trade union faction in the Bundestag, the guidelines are too lenient. During the Digital Committee vote, the CDU / CSU tried to double the upload requirements to 3.4 megabits and the download requirements to 20 megabits per second. Such specifications would be in line with “current market conditions,” said Bundestag CSU member Reinhard Brandl. However, the Union’s initiative did not find the majority.
The contentious issue in this respect is the question to what extent satellite Internet can be taken into account for the purpose of assessing the legal claim to broadband Internet as satisfied. Due to the latency specification of 150 milliseconds as the cutoff value, the fairly cheap geostationary satellite Internet is actually bypassed. There are, however, exceptions that the Federal Network Agency should decide on a case-by-case basis. Such unique opportunities are a thorn in the side of a CSU Brandl politician. He fears that consumers will be in a much weaker position if they insist on their rights.
The telecommunications and digital associations in Germany are of a completely different opinion. They fear that in the future the industry will have to lay lines to remote homes, blocking civil engineering capabilities that could improve the Internet in many other homes elsewhere. The associations Anga, Bitkom, Breko, Buglas, Eco, VATM and VKU are calling for permission to increase the value of delays that geostationary satellites can also achieve, at least for a transitional period. In their statement, they warned that “the de facto exclusion of satellite communications would jeopardize Germany’s plans for the fastest possible fiber-optic expansion” as the already limited construction capacity will have to be changed. (dpa)