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Shaping Europe’s digital future
Success story | Publication

Broadband expansion in the district of Bautzen, Germany

The district of Bautzen in Germany succeeded to provide very high connectivity in the whole district of Bautzen and supply 179 schools and approximately 8,800 businesses with fibre optic connections. The project was awarded with the European Broadband Awards 2022.

Trenching in the town centre

The aim of the project was to eliminate coverage gaps in the broadband network. In the district of Bautzen, the previous supply of 2-30 Mbps could not meet the present demand of the times of teleworking and home-schooling.

A market investigation procedure was carried out for 57 municipalities. As a result, approximately 33,000 connections were identified where bandwidth of less than 30 Mbps was available. Within the framework of a European-wide call for tenders, telecommunications companies were asked to submit appropriate concepts for eliminating the undersupply. The district council then commissioned Telekom Deutschland GmbH for 35 lots and Sachsenenergie for one lot with the expansion.

After completion of the expansion work, all households in the expansion area can use bandwidths of more than 100 Mbps and more than 90% of the connections have bandwidths of 1 Gbps.

In particular, the supply of 179 schools and approximately 8,800 businesses with fibre optic connections improves the connectivity in the rural area of the district enormously.

Unique characteristics

This project is very large by scale. From the very beginning, the district of Bautzen has focused on a large district project and all cities and municipalities in the district support this approach. This means that synergies could emerge, and a coherent projects could be implemented. The financing of the own contribution via the district budget was also borne in solidarity by all municipalities.

In total, around 12,500 km of fibre optics were laid, 2,200 km of underground lanes were built and 1,530 new distribution lines were installed. In addition to the usual open trench construction as a laying technique, other technologies such as trenching, ploughing or horizontal flush drilling were used. Some of the cabinets are embellished with drawings by regional artists, as a reminder of the exceptional nature of the project.

Results and impact

The most important result is almost full-coverage by the fibre optic infrastructure in the previously underserved areas. All households in the development area can now use bandwidths of more than 100 Mbps, and even up to 1 Gbps if required.

The area-wide availability of broadband networks achieved through the project primarily strengthens long-term competition for residents and jobs. As a result, existing services of general interest are maintained and the use of new services, such as e-learning or e-government, is made possible. Enterprises are given the opportunity to use modern information and communication technologies and thus increase their competitiveness in existing and new markets. New and sustainable jobs are created, and decentralised working & teleworking became possible.

Rural regions are becoming more attractive for new commercial settlements. As a result, the demographic development of the district is positively influenced. The population gains access to many available services and information, the quality of care is improved, and new working models can be adopted. Educational institutions have the possibility to teach in a versatile way through digital classrooms.

The new infrastructure supports the authorities in modern e-government services: public services can be coordinated and provided faster and at lower cost, administrative procedures are shortened and administrative processes accelerated.

With the infrastructure in place, new technologies can also be tested and used in the future. In particular, the structural change currently taking place in the lignite region can generate enormous advantages through the infrastructure built in this project.

For more information visit the project website.