Associations in Germany are calling for improvements in the conditions for network rollout. Today the Gigabit Symposium – organised by ANGA, Bitkom, BREKO, BUGLAS, eco and VATM – is reviewing the situation together with politicians and the industry, with the current German federal government now two years in action. The important EU level groundwork is also under discussion.
At the mid-point of the German federal government’s legislative term, crucial decisions need to be made for the telecommunications sector in Germany. With its Gigabit Strategy, last year the government published a comprehensive package of measures. In addition, at the EU level, a new impetus for the rollout of fibre optics and mobile networks is to be generated. At today’s Gigabit Symposium in Berlin, organised by the telecommunications and IT associations ANGA, Bitkom, BREKO, BUGLAS, eco and VATM, the main focus will revolve around the impact that these political plans will have on the market situation and the pace of rollout. The associations are calling for an improvement in political and regulatory conditions. This is the only way to achieve the German federal government’s extremely ambitious goal of having nationwide rollout of fibre optic networks and the latest mobile network standards by 2030.
As emphasised by ANGA President Thomas Braun: “The industry is doing everything it can to drive forward its own economic rollout. But there are some growing stumbling blocks. One aspect is still the hesitant demand for fibre optic connections among the population. In this phase, politicians must under no circumstances create new obstacles.” In addition, the rollout must be refinanced by the companies. As Braun urges, “Politicians, especially in the residential sector, must take countermeasures and find solutions together with the industry if they are serious about the FTTH target for 2030.”
For the successful rollout of fibre optics in Germany, open access also plays a very important role. How can we bring the heterogeneous German telecommunications market together with a focus on nationwide fibre optic rollout? “Open access is indispensable. However, it needs a level playing field for mutual network access,” emphasises BUGLAS President Theo Weirich, going on to say: “To achieve this, all stakeholders must bite the bullet and go beyond personal limits. Existing barriers to mutual use or access must finally be overcome.”
EU regulations also have a decisive influence on the telecommunications market. “In Brussels, conditions need to be established that support, rather than slow down, the rollout of fiber optics – also in Germany with its individual market characteristics that need to be taken into account,” appeals BREKO Vice President Karsten Kluge. “The current rollout momentum should not be hindered, either by considerations within the framework of the Digital Networks Acts or by the current ongoing negotiations of the Gigabit Infrastructure Act. Therefore, in the upcoming trilogue negotiations on the GIA, the Commission must incorporate the positive impetus from the European Council to remove the brakes on rollout as outlined in the original draft.”
What is also clear to VATM President David Zimmer: “Europe will only achieve the goals of the ‘Digital Decade’ if the special features of the national telecommunications markets are taken into account. This includes active products such as Bitstream in the German market.” He adds: “For the rapid rollout of fibre optics in the course of the GIA, factors that need to be implemented as quickly as possible include approval functions, the digitalisation of administrative files and the shortening of procedural deadlines. In addition, consumer protection regulations, cybersecurity and resilience requirements must be considered in line with the digital transformation. As the telecommunications industry, we look forward to an active dialogue with the EU.”
In addition to the topics of network rollout, the industry is also discussing the regulation of content. With regard to the Digital Services Act (DSA), Susanne Dehmel, Member of Bitkom’s Managing Board, stresses: “The DSA strengthens consumer protection in the digital world and creates an EU-wide, harmonised legal framework. It is not only after the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel that false information spreads rapidly on the Internet, and online platforms are a particular focus here. Germany must now quickly introduce its national Digital Services Act in order to transpose the DSA and adapt existing law. It is essential that the German Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) is equipped with sufficient competences in its role as Digital Services Coordinator.”
Another important topic at the Gigabit Symposium is the concept of sustainability. As eco Board Member Klaus Landefeld highlights, “If we want to achieve more sustainability and at the same time maintain Germany’s competitiveness, the German federal government must vigorously advance the nationwide rollout of gigabit-capable networks.” This can only be achieved through a combination of private-sector rollout and state subsidies. “Similarly, a digital ecosystem consisting of high-performance fibre optic networks, next-generation mobile networks, and energy-efficient data centres forms the foundation for achieving climate goals. To achieve this, the German coalition must also accelerate the rollout of renewable energies,” says Landefeld.