Ensuring Digital Participation Without Slowing Down Fiber-Optic Rollout

In the view of the telecommunications associations ANGA, bitkom, BREKO, BUGLAS, eco and VATM, the “right to provision of telecommunications services (RaVT)” contained in the new German Telecommunications Act (TKG) should be implemented in such a way that, in particular, non-line connections via satellite, mobile communications or directional radio can be used for nationwide digital participation for all citizens. This is because these technologies are powerful, quickly available and do not take up scarce construction and planning capacities that are urgently needed for the ongoing fiber-optic rollout.

The fiber-optic rollout is in full swing. But it will be several years before the goal of a nationwide FTTH network agreed in the German federal government coalition agreement is achieved. That is why Anga, bitkom, BREKO, BUGLAS, eco and VATM agree: “We need a pragmatic transitional solution that ensures coverage of the most important Internet services in the short term to enable social and industrial participation everywhere in Germany.” The associations appeal to decision-makers at the federal and state levels to consider wireless technologies as a central part of this solution in order to achieve both goals – fibre-optic rollout and basic Internet provision in the short term – without hindering each other.

The German Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) will concretise the RaVT by issuing an ordinance by 1 June 2022 defining minimum requirements for an Internet connection within the meaning of the RaVT. The design of these minimum requirements is decisive for the question of whether basic Internet coverage can be implemented in the short term without delaying the achievement of the actual goal – the nationwide fiber-optic rollout.

From the point of view of the associations, technology openness is important in basic Internet provision: “Even where gigabit is not yet available, we can and want to provide the vast majority of people with significantly more megabits than can be provided by a basic provision as a safety net. That’s why we want to drive forward quickly with the expansion of fiber-optic rollouts. In order to enable digital participation for all citizens in Germany in the short term, powerful technologies and good Internet services are available in the form of satellite, mobile and directional radio.” Therefore, the associations urge: “RaVT must incorporate all technologies so that existing construction and planning resources can be used as efficiently as possible for further fibre rollout.”

Position Paper on the Data Act