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Despite promotion: Broadband expansion is slow progress

Saturday, August 19th, 2017 | Gadgets

Despite the support of billions, the expansion of broadband supply in the country is slow. Of the 1.56 billion euro budgeted in the budget from 2015 to 2017, only 13.9 million million – or 0.9 percent – have been accessed so far. This is clear from the Federal Government's response to a small request from the Greens, which is available at Golem.de. Of the 318 million approved in the 2015 financial year, a single penny has not flowed. "Never before has so little money been made," said Greens deputy Tabea Rößner.

The federal government has set itself the goal that by 2018 all German households at least have a broadband access with 50 MBit / s. At the end of last year, however, the quota was only 75.5 percent nationwide, while in East-German states such as Saxony-Anhalt it was still partially below 50 percent. Recent figures are not available.
Municipalities receive the funding only after "certain project milestones have been implemented and this has been proven and tested by the project owner". Since only very little money has been paid so far, the projects do not appear to have advanced far enough, or even completed.
Dobrindt holds on to the expansion goal
However, the Federal Government continues to believe that it can still reach its own goal. Even the fact that an additional 400 million euros, which were granted for the expansion before the summer break, could only be called up until 2020 did not change the assessment.
At the end of July, Federal Minister of Infrastructure Alexander Dobrindt (CSU) had distributed a further 209 subsidy grants totaling 865 million euros to counties and municipalities in underserved regions. Thus, the approved total sum of the federal government had increased to 3.1 billion euros.

According to the Greens, Dobrindt "took the topic too late and set the wrong impulses". There seems to be very little interest in the special promotional program business areas that Dobrindt had presented in June 2016. Although the program has a volume of EUR 350 million, only four applications with a total funding of EUR 710,000 have been submitted so far. This corresponds to a share of 0.2 percent. "This is particularly embarrassing," said Rösner.
Poor grades from business
The Federal Government can not provide precise information on the subsidized techniques such as glass fiber or vectoring. This is only possible after the final approval of the completed expansion projects. According to Dobrindt, glass fiber connections accounted for around 80 percent of the approved delivery allowances. The rest is implemented with Vectoring or with hybrid technology (mobile radio). It was only last week that the EU Commission had approved the preliminary projects of three providers, so that EU support for vectoring is now possible.
Poor grades for the broadband expansion received the Federal Government last also from the economy. According to a recent survey by the German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), the dissatisfaction of industrial companies with the broadband connection continues to grow. With the score of 3.7, the assessment of the location factor had deteriorated as clearly as with no other. While it was still 2.3 in 2008, it declined continuously from 2.5 (2011) to 3.1 (2014). "Obviously the political efforts and the objectives for the expansion of the infrastructure do not keep pace with the digital development in the enterprise," said the survey. With regard to the future viability of German industry, this is "a serious warning signal". Current developments such as the industry 4.0 required a powerful broadband connection.

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