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Summary of broadband development in Germany
The broadband and Next Generation Access coverage in Germany is above the European average with DSL being the most common technology to provide broadband access. Germany’s strategy was adopted in 2009 by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure and revised in 2013 and continues to be in force in 2018 as part of Germany's Digital Agenda 2014-2017 (pdf).
In addition, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) published the Digital Strategy 2025 (Digitale Strategie 2025), with more focus on stimulating broadband take-up and usage in different sectors.
In the coalition agreement of the new German Federal Government, the priority goal of a nationwide expansion of gigabit networks by 2025 has been set.
In November 2016, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) and the Network Alliance for a Digital Germany (Netzallianz Digitales Deutschland) published the Cornerstones of future-oriented Gigabit-Germany (Eckpunkte Zukunftsoffensive Gigabit-Deutschland). The document contains the implementation phases as well as measures for rolling out 5G networks and gigabit-capable converged infrastructures in Germany by 2025. Consequently, the Network Alliance for a Digital Germany adopted the strategy Future-oriented Gigabit-Germany (Zukunftsoffensive Gigabit-Deutschland) in March 2017. The strategy restates the implementation phases and provides a set of detailed measures for the deployment of gigabit networks and the main supporting measures of the federal government. The strategy determines how the federal government will promote and incentivise the expansion of gigabit networks in Germany, including the continuous provision of EUR 3 billion per year as of 2018 for the promotion of broadband infrastructures. The strategy aims at establishing a high-performance (gigabit-ready) broadband network in Germany by 2025.
The federal government has developed a framework for action with the 5G Strategy for Germany, which was launched in autumn 2016, in order to support network expansion and the development of 5G applications at an early stage.
National broadband strategy and policy
- The Federal Ministry for Transport and Digital Infrastructure (Bundesministerium für Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur, BMVi) is responsible for broadband development and the implementation of the federal government’s broadband strategy.
- The Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie, BMWi) promotes the key areas of digital infrastructure and transport infrastructure.
- The Federal Network Agency for Electricity, Gas, Telecommunications, Post and Railway (Bundesnetzagentur) is responsible for implementing the regulatory framework laid down in EU and national law.
- The Federal Broadband Bureau (Breitbandbüro des Bundes) has been designated as a national broadband competence office since 2010. Its tasks include:
- the provision of knowledge about any relevant technology and guidelines about current broadband issues,
- the organisation and improvement of direct communication between private, communal, federal state and national actors,
- the supervision and documentation of ongoing model projects and other best practices.
The Federal Broadband Bureau also supports potential beneficiaries in the process of obtaining development funds from various sources and organizes broadband events and workshops for actors involved in the expansion of broadband networks in Germany. It maintains contact with the broadband competence centres of the federal states.
Main aims for broadband development
The objective of the Digital Agenda 2014-2017 was to provide broadband connections featuring transmission rates of at least 50 Mbps for all households by 2018. The strategy suggests the use of synergies for cost-effective expansion of broadband infrastructure and introduces a supportive frequency policy as well as a market-friendly and growth-oriented regulatory framework. In addition, the financial aid programmes are considered a means for stimulating the expansion of broadband networks, which are primarily carried out by private operators. Germany has opted for a technology-mix in order to realise its broadband development targets.
Furthermore, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has launched the Digital Strategy 2025 (Digitale Strategie 2025). The Federal Government's ICT strategy is to seize the opportunities that digitisation presents to strengthen Germany's role as an innovative and highly productive economy.
In the coalition agreement of the new German Federal Government, the priority goal of a nationwide expansion of gigabit networks by 2025 is laid out. The goal is to expand the fibre infrastructure in each region and each community, preferably directly to the house. Schools, industrial parks, public-sector institutions and hospitals are to be connected directly to the fibre-optic network in the next 4 years.
Main measures for broadband development
- The revision of the Telecommunications Act, which entered into force in May 2012, supplements the Federal Government’s Broadband Strategy and optimises the framework for the expansion and construction of high-speed networks by creating incentives for investment in new networks. It also addresses the requirements to jointly use alternative infrastructures like sewer or energy networks or apply cost-effective technologies like micro-trenching to increase broadband coverage and reduce deployment costs. The revised Telecommunications Act strengthens competition between service operators by prescribing open access obligation to networks as well as by introducing consumer protection measures in the telecommunications sector.
- The DigiNetz Act has introduced the Cost Reduction Directive 2014/61/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 on measures to reduce the cost of upgrading high-speed electronic communication networks.
- Broadband mapping: as a central information point, the broadband atlas shows broadband penetration and availability. A bi-annual report on the broadband atlas contains a detailed analysis of broadband availability at the federal and state levels. Furthermore, the Bundesnetzagentur has launched a nationwide infrastructure atlas to facilitate the use of synergies in infrastructure deployment. The atlas contains spatial data about the infrastructure of companies and institutions, such as geo-data about fibre optic lines, empty ducts, radio towers and masts as well as radio stations.
- With the Federal Government's 5G Strategy published in September 2017, the framework conditions and fields of action are now described in order to implement the roll-out of 5G networks in Germany by 2025 and to develop Germany into the leading market for 5G networks and applications. This goal is supported by the Federal Government through measures in five fields of action:
- Promote network roll-out;
- needs-based provision of frequencies;
- promotion of cooperation between the telecommunications and user industries;
- coordinated and targeted research;
- early initiation of 5G in cities and communities.
- With the Network Alliance for a Digital Germany (Netzallianz Digitales Deutschland) the government has established a forum for discussion by telecommunications developers and network operators on the conditions for incentivising market investments. It acts both as a forum for new ideas and as a discussion platform. In autumn 2014, the Network Alliance for a Digital Germany presented a roadmap outlining all action areas relevant for digital expansion together with key milestones for network expansion. In 2016 a second roadmap was published by Netzallianz. It comprises detailed measures to achieve the strategic targets and provides concrete measures in realising gigabit networks in Germany.
National and regional broadband financial instruments
The federal states in Germany support broadband development with a number of measures and financial means. Some of the current measures are:
- The coalition agreement includes information on a public financing requirement of EUR 10 to 12 billion in this legislative period, which is provided in a gigabit investment fund. For this purpose, the proceeds from the award of the UMTS and 5G licenses are earmarked. These public funds will be used for upgrades using fibre optic technology. The funding schemes are designed to systematically upgrade underserved rural areas.
- Federal funding programme (Förderprogramm zum Breitbandausbau): this programme supports network expansion to provide high-speed broadband networks in underserved areas with EUR 4 billion until the end of 2019. The support of the federal state permits nationwide expansion of minimum 50 Mbps connections in areas that were previously underserved. The maximum amount of federal funding per project is EUR 15 million with a 50% co-financing rate of eligible costs. Combination with other funding programmes, e.g. from the federal states, is possible and can be added to cover the remaining co-financing. An overview of ongoing and completed funding processes in different federal states (Bundesländer) can be found at Breitband-Ausschreibungen.
Other financial measures:
- The German government-owned development bank KfW offers the loan 208 IKK to municipalities to support investments in infrastructure including broadband infrastructure. Though the loan is capped at EUR 150 million annually, it can be combined with financial resources from public funding. More information is available on the KfW website.
- The Landwirtschaftliche Rentenbank also offers loans to support projects intending to establish or improve communication infrastructure including broadband networks in rural areas. The loans are capped at EUR 10 million annually.
- Additional funding programmes have been developed on federal state level. For further information, please contact the Breitbandbüro des Bundes or the competence centres of the federal states.
Data on broadband development and technologies in Germany
For the latest data on broadband coverage, subscriptions and penetrations, coverage of different broadband technologies and costs check the scoreboard reports and the country reports of the Digital Economy & Society Index (DESI).
Spectrum assignments for wireless broadband
National publications and press documents
- The Federal Government’s Digital Agenda 2014 – 2017 (pdf)
- 5G Strategy for Germany
- Study on National Broadband Plans in the EU-28
- Guide to High-Speed Broadband Investment
- Europe's Digital Progress Report 2017
- Study on retail broadband access prices (as of 2016)
- Fixed broadband prices per country (as of February 2015)
- Study on broadband coverage in Europe (as of 2016)
- The Federal Government’s Digital Agenda 2014 – 2017 (pdf)
- 5G Strategie für Deutschland
- Zukunftsoffensive Gigabit-Deutschland (pdf)
- Digitale Strategie 2025 (pdf)
- Eckpunkte für eine Zukunftsoffensive Gigabit-Deutschland