Mobile pact for Germany:
Government and business join forces to eliminate dead zones
Good news from today’s mobile summit, convened by Andreas Scheuer, Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, in Berlin: All parties concerned from the federal government, federal states, local umbrella organisations and the industry have signed an ambitious declaration to fill in the blank spots on Germany’s network supply map. Telefónica Deutschland has already been making the case for a mobile pact between government and network operators since the beginning of the year. “The fact that Federal Minister Scheuer has now taken up this proposal and is advocating joining forces is something we very much welcomeˮ, says Markus Haas, CEO of Telefónica Deutschland. Because one thing is clear: “There can only be a solution if each side gives some ground. The industry has committed to a very extensive network expansion, and the government, in turn, now wants to make sure that funds flow to where they should – namely primarily into infrastructure and not into granting licenses that maximise revenues.ˮ
Government to foster investment
With today’s declaration of intent, Minister Scheuer is promising the network operators far-reaching support to facilitate their ability to invest. This includes first and foremost improved payment terms and a development programme for mobile telephony. For this to become a reality depends, from our point of view, on the Federal Ministry for Transport and Digital Infrastructure, the Federal Network Agency (FNA) and the Federal Ministry of Finance setting the following course together in the coming months:
- The duty of payment must not come into force until the frequencies have been allocated, in order to avoid high capital commitment costs.
- The service provider obligation discussed in the frequency allocation procedure at the FNA must not come about. Such an obligation would give companies that don’t put a penny into Germany’s digital infrastructure the right to access our mobile network, which we are building with enormous investment.
- The FNA urgently needs to start a process that leads to prompt extension of existing frequency usage rights for low-band spectrum. The expansion commitments promised in today’s declaration of intent can only be realised if the mobile operators can use low-band spectrum. However, the usage rights for all the low-band spectrum in the market will end in 2025 (800 MHz) and 2033 (700, 900 MHz). To enable the statements made today in the long term, the usage rights must therefore be extended for an appropriate fee.
- Our ambition is to achieve more than 99 percent coverage for households long-term. But from an economic point of view this cannot be borne by the network providers alone. We are therefore assuming that Minister Scheuer will walk his talk and set up a development programme for mobile telephony.
Enabling nationwide coverage
If these points take effect and the Federal Network Agency now lays the necessary foundations in the guidelines for the planned 5G frequency allocation at the beginning of 2019, this will increase the industry’s ability to invest in the actual network expansion. It’s up to the government now to make this happen. In return, the mobile network operators have today declared a voluntary commitment to clear expansion targets, which will see 99 percent LTE coverage for households nationwide by the end of 2020 and in every federal state by 2021. Markus Haas, CEO of Telefónica Deutschland: “There’s no doubt it will be a huge effort. But I’m convinced we will all deliver. Ultimately for our country it will mean virtually nationwide coverage, an incentive for ambitious 5G expansion and, with that, even better networks for the digital future.ˮ