Germany eases rules to accelerate fiber, 5G build

New gigabit strategy aims to simplify planning processes and construction techniques to meet deployment goals.

Anne Morris, Contributing Editor, Light Reading

March 21, 2022

3 Min Read
Germany eases rules to accelerate fiber, 5G build

Srini Gopalan, the CEO of Deutsche Telekom's Germany-based operator Telekom Deutschland (TDE), has long called for faster application and approval processes in Germany as TDE pushes ahead with its deployment of fiber-to-the-home (FTTP) and 5G networks.

DT's aim is to build fiber to at least 10 million premises by 2024, but Gopalan has made it clear that this a challenging, and often expensive, task because of Germany's complex structure at state and municipal level.

Figure 1: According to a Deutsche Telekom spokesperson, the 'common goal is to significantly increase the pace of rollout for FTTH and 5G in Germany.' (Source: Deutsche Telekom) According to a Deutsche Telekom spokesperson, the "common goal is to significantly increase the pace of rollout for FTTH and 5G in Germany."
(Source: Deutsche Telekom)

It seems that Germany's government has been paying close attention to what Gopalan et al. have been saying. Indeed, it is a political aim to enable widespread fiber and 4G/5G deployments by 2030, and efforts are being made to help smooth the process as much as possible.

New strategy

Germany's Federal Ministry for Digital Affairs and Transport (BMDV, until recently known as the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure or BMVI) presented its latest Gigabit Strategy that outlines a number of key goals, including the supply of at least half of all German premises with FTTH networks by the end of 2025, and better mobile network coverage on railway lines.

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

One key point is to simplify the application process for building and site permits, which will require the 16 federal states "to make appropriate changes to the law by the end of 2022," a BMDV statement said.

For example, the changes should allow mobile masts to be erected before a building permit is granted, and reduce distances between the sites. In terms of fiber build, the ministry wants to increase acceptance of new construction techniques such as microtrenching and above-ground laying techniques that enable networks to be deployed faster and with less disruption.

In other measures, the BMDV intends to simplify access to funding for network deployment in remote areas and provide the necessary planning security to federal states and municipalities in areas that require more state support.

A DT spokesperson said the Minister for Digital Affairs and Transport, Volker Wissing, "is on the right track."

"Our common goal is to significantly increase the pace of rollout for FTTH and 5G in Germany. Alternative installation methods, digital construction applications, fast approval procedures, uniform contracts for the use of real estate in mobile communications, funding with a sense of proportion — these are crucial points for advancing digitalization. The brakes must be removed. We need speed," the spokesperson said.

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Also worth noting is that the ministry appears to be removing some of the powers of the somewhat controversial national Mobilfunkinfrastrukturgesellschaft (mobile infrastructure company/MIG) and transferring them to the Bundesnetzagentur (Federal Network Agency).

The MIG was established to help coordinate mobile network deployment in areas that are less economically viable, and is to work in collaboration with mobile network operators O2 Germany, TDE and Vodafone Germany.

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— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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About the Author(s)

Anne Morris

Contributing Editor, Light Reading

Anne Morris is a freelance journalist, editor and translator. She has been working in the telecommunications sector since 1996, when she joined the London-based team of Communications Week International as copy editor. Over the years she held the editor position at Total Telecom Online and Total Tele-com Magazine, eventually leaving to go freelance in 2010. Now living in France, she writes for a number of titles and also provides research work for analyst companies.

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