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No fast internet for over 3 million Germans

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Germany should have nationwide broadband coverage with 50 megabits per second (Mbit/s) as early as 2018. But around 3.4 million people in this country are still dependent on slower connections. The comparison portal Verivox calls for the five-year-old promise of “fast Internet for everyone” to be fulfilled – and thus to counteract an increasing digital divide.

1,000 cities and towns not yet fully developed

According to the Federal Broadband Atlas, almost 96 percent of all households in Germany have a download speed of at least 50 Mbit/s. The remaining four percent have to resort to lower surfing speeds. This means that a total of almost 1.7 million households or 3.4 million people are cut off from high-speed internet. The expansion rate improved by just 2.6 percent compared to the previous year.

A total of 11,000 communities in Germany are not sufficiently supplied with 50 Mbit/s. In 324 of these municipalities, 50 Mbit/s coverage is a maximum of ten percent – of which more than half have no access at all to fixed broadband connections with at least 50 Mbit/s.

Great inequality leads to digital divide

In underserved regions, people are increasingly excluded from today’s common use of the Internet. The need for data is constantly growing: While 276 gigabytes (GB) were used per landline connection per month in 2022, this value rose to 321 GB last year, according to VATM analysis. “Fast and stable internet should be viewed as part of our basic supply, like electricity and gas,” says Verivox CEO Daniel Puschmann. “Digital participation is not guaranteed if entire areas of the country are underserved. Far too often, the massive increase in data needs is slowed down by inadequate infrastructure.”

Since 2022 there has been a “right to fast internet” in Germany. Accordingly, landline internet with a download rate of at least 10 Mbit/s must be available everywhere – this goal was also not achieved. “10 Mbit/s is far too little; even standard applications often cannot be implemented,” says Puschmann. “The minimum download speed should be adjusted to at least 50 Mbit/s as quickly as possible.”

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For many households, even this value will not be enough: “In a family with school-age children and one parent working from home, the data requirement for mandatory applications is so great that it is hardly possible for simultaneous private streaming or gaming, even at 50 Mbit/s Bandwidth remains. The differences between minimum coverage and gigabit speed are enormous: “It makes it extremely difficult for households with slow connections to actively participate in many areas of everyday life. If fast internet is a question of where you live, that promotes the digital divide in society,” says Puschmann .

Open access instead of competition between infrastructures

Other, ambitious goals are formulated in the federal government’s new gigabit strategy: The coalition agreement provides for a nationwide supply of fiber optics. Half of all households should be covered by 2025, and the aim is for complete coverage by 2030. “In order not to deepen a digital divide between urban centers and rural areas through gigabit expansion and to play expansion projects off against each other, all actors should concentrate on implementing 50 Mbit/s as a minimum for everyone – instead of gigabit for a few,” says Puschmann. “Instead of competition between infrastructures, there needs to be competition for cheap tariffs and, as a basis, open access, i.e. open networks.”

methodology

The basis for the survey on the expansion rate of 50 Mbit/s is the Federal Network Agency’s broadband atlas, which was updated in December 2023 (with data as of June 2023). The basis for comparison is the survey from the previous year (as of June 2022). The availability of landline networks in private households was considered. An average of two people per household was assumed (source: Federal Statistical Office for 2022). The survey was carried out independently of technologies such as cable Internet, DSL or fiber optics.

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