Network Rollout Must Be Driven Forward Vigorously

Telecommunications associations call for improvement of framework conditions for the rollout of fibre optic and 5G

At the Gigabit Symposium of ANGA, Bitkom, BUGLAS, eco and VATM, the German Telecommunications Act (TKG) amendment and Gigabit Strategy were reviewed alongside politicians, the industry and academics

The German federal government has set itself the correct and important objectives for gigabit coverage. It intends to bring Germany into the forefront group of industrial nations in the digitalisation of industry and society. For this, high-performance digital infrastructures are a prerequisite. Politicians has set the course for this with last year’s amendment of the Telecommunications Act and the adoption of the Gigabit Strategy. At their fifth Gigabit Symposium, the German telecommunications and IT associations ANGA, Bitkom, BUGLAS, eco and VATM discussed what progress has been made and where improvements are urgently needed. The associations share a unanimous opinion: a lot still needs to happen. There must be no further encumbrances under any circumstances.

“Our industry has announced private investment funds for further fibre optic rollout amounting to 50 billion Euro over the next few years. In order for network operators to be able to exploit this potential quickly and efficiently, more investment-friendly framework conditions are needed above all,” emphasises ANGA President Thomas Braun. Politicians could provide significant support by further facilitating and digitalising application and authorisation procedures. As Braun also urges, “In addition, modern installation methods that are considered standard in other European countries must finally be applied. From a legal point of view, the new TKG sets the course for this, but unfortunately there is a lack of implementation at the municipal level. The German federal government and the federal states must now follow up their announcements with action.”

It is of utmost importance for the successful rollout of fibre optics that the subsidies that will come into force from 2023 onwards do not hinder the fast rollout by the private sector by unnecessarily triggering subsidy procedures. “Most of the private sector funds are available for rural areas. We must not jeopardise this by over-subsidising,” warns VATM President David Zimmer. “The new subsidisation concept goes in the right direction. A stringent prioritisation of subsidy districts is crucial so that those municipalities that are particularly poorly supplied with Internet and have no potential for self-supported rollout are the first to benefit from state support. But the states still seem to reject such prioritisation and take a critical view of the ‘potential analysis’ commissioned by the Federal Digital Ministry. However, it absolutely must be the basis for market investigation procedures on which new subsidy applications are based.”

Bitkom President Achim Berg also appeals to politicians to reduce bureaucracy in mobile communications: “In the meantime, the network providers have created a very good foundation for the further rollout of mobile communications: Today, LTE is already available to 99.8 per cent of households and 96.2 per cent of the territory, and 5G is already available to 89.4 per cent of households and 60.3 per cent of the territory. But at more than 1,000 locations, mobile phone companies are currently not making any progress with their rollout plans for mobile phone installations. Many proceedings drag on for more than two years. The reasons lie in the difficult search for sites, lengthy authorisation procedures and, too often, a lack of local acceptance. The German federal government, state governments and municipalities must finally pull together on this: We need to digitalise and speed up the authorisation procedures and quickly remove the barriers tothe rollout. Germany’s ambitious goals now need equally ambitious implementation, and at all levels.”

It is also crucial for a successful rollout of digital infrastructures that there is not an ever-increasing burden on businesses. “As critical infrastructures, TC networks maintain supply in crises, disasters and energy shortages. Telecommunications networks must therefore be secure, resilient and resistant,” says Klaus Landefeld, eco Board Member for Infrastructure and Networks. He warns that, “The high regulatory safety requirements discussed in politics at the European and national level overshoot the mark: Excessive legal demands and security requirements for telecommunications companies and infrastructure providers threaten to become the next obstacle to a rapid gigabit rollout. This is where I see an emerging conflict of objectives.”

BUGLAS President Theo Weirich also emphasised the priority of gigabit networks at the symposium: “High-performance communication networks are like pilot ships in stormy seas: They help the supertankers and container ships find a feasible course and master the current crisis situation. If any impetus was needed to drive forward the rollout of fibre optic networks as far as possible and to promote further digitalisation, that would be the past two years of pandemics, natural disasters and conflict-related shortages. The signs are pointing to change. Our industry can and must play a central role in addressing this.”


Network Rollout Must Be Driven Forward Vigorously