Germany unveils ‘Gigabit Strategy’ to boost fiber and 5G rollouts

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In terms of fiber construction, the “Gigabit Strategy” aims to increase acceptance of new construction techniques such as microtrenching

Germany’s Federal Ministry for Digital Affairs and Transport (BMDV) has unveiled its latest “Gigabit Strategy” which sets out a number of key goals, including supplying at least half of all German premises with FTTH networks from by the end of 2025.

The strategy is currently being developed and should be presented to the cabinet for final approval before the end of the summer.

Volker Wissing, Federal Minister for Digital Affairs and Transport, said: “We want the digital alarm clock for Germany. Digitization brings us more progress, more participation, more opportunities. To do this, we need powerful digital infrastructures everywhere, that is to say fiber optics right into the house and the latest mobile communication standard. With our gigabit strategy, we want to make expansion faster and more efficient.

With this gigabit strategy, the German government aims to triple the number of fiber optic connections by the end of 2025.

In order to accelerate the expansion of fiber optics and mobile communications across Germany, the government has noted that building and site permits need to be simplified. The government has stated that it is asking the federal states to make the appropriate amendments to the law by the end of 2022, to allow for the possibility of an early start of construction (for the deployment of mobile phone masts ) prior to the issuance of the building permit, the reduction of separation distances provided for cell towers and the exemption of permits for mobile towers and modifications to existing cell towers.

In terms of fiber construction, the ministry wants to increase acceptance of new construction techniques such as microtrenching and above-ground laying techniques that allow networks to be deployed faster and with less disruption. “We want to increase acceptance among municipalities and companies in the construction sector and reduce uncertainty. Using good examples and pilot projects, we want to show potential and options for implementation,” the ministry said in a statement.

The BMDV also aims to simplify access to funding for network deployment in remote areas of the country and to provide the necessary planning certainty to federal states and municipalities in areas that require more state support. “We want to give the Länder and municipalities the necessary planning certainty. At the same time, we want to simplify financing: this is why we propose the financing of clusters. In regions with a high proportion of white dots, we begin our funding. The State also has a say in its co-financing.

The strategy also aims to guarantee better mobile telephony coverage on railway lines. Deutsche Bahn’s approval procedures for upgrading tunnels for mobile communications are to be cut in half. The BMDV is continuing the GSM-R funding program, which “provides planning security for Deutsche Bahn and enables unrestricted use of the 900 MHz frequencies for 4G and 5G”, the ministry added.

“To monitor the implementation of the gigabit strategy, we are creating a new committee of federal and state secretaries. This will meet at least four times a year to review the implementation of the gigabit strategy and, if necessary, make adjustments and provide assistance,” the ministry said. It also establishes an institutionalized industry dialogue to improve state-market cooperation to accelerate fiber expansion.

More than 53% of German territory is covered by at least one provider providing 5G at the end of October 2021, according to the latest available data from the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur).

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