Mobile expansion in germany: 5g is needed at every milk can

The German government is working on digitization in Germany. Not everyone thinks that nationwide mobile network expansion is necessary.

Wifi routers for cows? No way, milk cans in the countryside Photo: imago/blickwinkel

Germany is to get faster Internet. So far, the connection speed in Germany has only made it to 25th place in the global ranking by the U.S. company Akamai. South Korea leads the world with an average connection speed of 28.6 MBit per second. German networks only manage 15.3 Mbit per second. For future projects such as autonomous driving, faster, nationwide coverage would be absolutely essential.

The German government is therefore planning to expand mobile communications. Starting in spring 2019, the Federal Network Agency plans to allocate frequencies for the 5G mobile communications standard to network operators. 5G is twenty times faster than LTE and ten times faster than 4G.

To provide Germany with nationwide coverage with 5G, the number of radio stations would have to be increased tenfold. According to Handelsblatt, the cost of this would be 60 billion euros. The Federal Network Agency has therefore so far only required the construction of 1,000 new 5G base stations. By 2020, 98 percent of households in each German state are to be equipped with 100 Mbit per second. And the remaining two percent?

Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek (CDU) puts it very flippantly like this: "5G is not necessary at every milk can." The first step should be to ensure that the 4G mobile communications standard is available everywhere. 5G, on the other hand, is only necessary at nodes, says Karliczek: "To go nationwide, we can take a little time." What does that mean in concrete terms? Future-proof Internet is to be available in the big cities – and the "milk cans" in rural regions are once again going empty-handed.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, for whom the Internet is no longer just "uncharted territory," reckons that at least 10,000 new radio masts are needed for network expansion. But she also thinks: "We don’t need to expand the entire country with 5G right away, we still have a little time." Five years is "not a big deal."

The municipalities do not like this attitude. "We need 5G at every milk can, because the availability of high-performance connections plays a decisive role for agriculture and the development of rural areas," Gerd Landsberg, CEO of the German Association of Towns and Municipalities, told RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (RND).

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