Summary of broadband development in Germany
The federal government has developed a framework for action with the 5G Strategy for Germany, which was launched in summer 2017, in order to support network expansion and the development of 5G applications at an early stage.
In the coalition agreement of the German Federal Government, signed in March 2018, the priority goal of a nationwide expansion of gigabit networks by 2025 has been set. In order to achieve this target, a number of measures are being implemented, which are summarised in the implementation strategy of the Federal Government for shaping the digital transformation.
In November 2019, the German government has approved a mobile communications strategy. The aim of the strategy is to ensure nationwide supply of mobile voice and data services.
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.
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 Gigabit Bureau (Gigabitbüro des Bundes) has been designated as a national broadband competence. It maintains contact with the broadband competence centres of the federal states.
Main aims for broadband development
In the coalition agreement of the 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.
Main measures for broadband development
- The revision of the Telecommunications Act, which entered into force in May 2012, 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 July 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 its mobile communications strategy, the Federal government has announced major plans to improve its mobile coverage. The Federal Government is working with countries and municipalities to implement a mix of different measures. This includes:
- the creation of transparency regarding the actual supply situation as well as monitoring of the mobile network expansion,
- the identification of infrastructure and properties that the Federal Government can provide for the construction of masts,
- the provision of EUR 1.1 billion for the development of up to 5,000 unpowered areas,
- relieving local authorities of the implementation of the support program in order to ensure effective and cost-effective expansion,
- the identification of acceleration potentials in mobile network expansion in cooperation with countries and municipalities.
- 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 addition, the members of the Netzallianz have decided on the Zukunftsoffensive Gigabit-Deutschland on 7 March 2017. The aim of the joint strategy is to invest 100 billion euros in order to build a high-performance broadband network throughout Germany by 2025. This should enable network speeds in the gigabit range.
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. The support of the federal state permits nationwide expansion of minimum 1 Gbps connections in areas that were previously underserved. The maximum amount of federal funding per project is EUR 30 million.
- 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.
- The Landwirtschaftliche Rentenbank also offers loans to support projects intending to establish or improve communication infrastructure including broadband networks in rural areas.
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
For details on harmonised spectrum assignments consult the European 5G Observatory.
National publications and press documents
- Implementation strategy of the Federal Government "Shaping the digitalisation"
- 5G Strategy for Germany
- Gigabit Initiative for Germany
- Study on National Broadband Plans
- Guide to High-Speed Broadband Investment
- Broadband Connectivity Reports and Analyses
- Mobile and fixed broadband prices in Europe
- Study on broadband coverage in Europe
- Zukunftsoffensive Gigabit-Deutschland
- Digitale Strategie 2025
- Digitalisierung gestalten, Umsetzungsstrategie der Bundesregierung