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BERLIN (dpa-AFX) – Fight the snail on the Internet, get rid of blind spots: with a comprehensive gigabit strategy, the federal government wants to push through measures to improve Internet coverage and keep Germany competitive. The government gave a speech in Berlin on Wednesday. “We want to catch up on the past few years and by 2030 we want to provide fiber coverage wherever people live, work or travel,” said Federal Minister for Digital Affairs Volker Wissing (FDP).
The expansion of mobile communication in the 5G standard should also be “at the highest level everywhere”. The milestone is that every second household should be able to reserve clean fiber contracts in 2025.
The strategy was awaited for a long time and Wissing presented the key points in March. A comprehensive document contains a set of measures for various aspects of the expansion. In some cases, the explanations are only a recommendation as responsibility rests with the Länder and municipalities.
Basically, it is about cutting red tape. For example, approval procedures for cell phone masts that are only located in one location for a limited time should no longer be necessary. In other locations, the official procedure is to be accelerated.
The article also suggests improvements for faster fiberglass laying: Simple laying techniques should speed up laying, and in some places the fiberglass should be suspended off the ground from wooden poles – this eliminates time-consuming digging. In addition, a “gigabit land registry” should provide a better overview of current supply and future projects.
Federal Minister Wissing spoke of the “digital awakening” that the strategy should achieve. “The home office, ICE streaming and reception at the hostel must finally be possible without any problems.” The conditions are now being created to make the expansion faster and more effective.
“I want Germany to have the most modern digital infrastructure,” said Wissing. Now he wants the Länder to be responsible. There should be a standing committee. Because the Länder are responsible for the approval procedures. And there are often local initiatives against new transmission masts.
The topic of financing the expansion of optical fibers contained in the strategy is also controversial. By the end of 2022, the 100 megabits per second threshold will no longer apply. Until now, new cables could only be laid with state money in areas with lower value. In the future, project financing will be possible in much larger areas.
The telecommunications industry sees this with concern: it warns that then too many financing projects will be launched. Construction firms would be completely overburdened and expansion would also take place where there are only a few households – rather than having a greater impact elsewhere. The expansion would be slowed down, also because subsidized expansion takes two to three times longer than a self-financing expansion, for example, warns Stephan Albers of the Breko fiber optic association.
In line with the strategy paper, the 100 megabits threshold will remain abolished. However, it should be determined where the potential for expansion is greatest – this should serve as a guide. However, this is a fairly weak specification – the results of the “potential analysis” should not have a “direct blocking effect” as stated in the document. This means that states and municipalities can also approve financing projects in areas that, according to the potential analysis, should not be of interest at all. After all, it is important to evaluate how the financing is going on a regular basis.
David Zimmer of the VATM telecommunications association was disappointed. He accused the federal government of an unstructured approach to financing optical fiber, which would slow down expansion at the expense of taxpayers and raise it.
Politicians’ reactions varied. Reinhard Brandl (CSU), spokesman for the digital policy of the opposition Union faction in the Bundestag, stressed that no areas will be blocked for funding – this is very positive news “especially for municipalities in rural areas, which might otherwise have to wait for years for federal funding.”
On the other hand, topics such as faster approval procedures have met with goodwill in the internet sector and industry. Companies have long been annoyed by the federal patchwork duvet. “To ensure that the gigabit network supply in this area does not remain wishful thinking, there is an urgent need to accelerate construction and planning,” said Iris Plöger of the German Industry Federation (BDI). With a total of approximately 12,000 different authorities at the municipal and state levels, applicants had to deal with an enormous amount of bureaucracy. The strategy shows that digital application portals should improve the situation in the future. / Wdw / hoe / DP / stk
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