CEO Markus Haas's contribution to the Mobile Summit:State intervention only necessary for uneconomic sites
The Corona crisis has once again shown how important a well-functioning digital infrastructure is for maintaining public life. Our networks are far better than their reputation - they have passed the stress test! This was made clear again today by the federal government, the states, local authorities and the network operators in their joint declaration on the occasion of the second mobile communications summit under the leadership of Federal Minister Andreas Scheuer. In the past two years, the network operators have set up several thousand new mobile communications sites and activated transmitter stations. At Telefónica Germany alone, we at Telefónica Deutschland have brought around 14,000 new mobile communications elements onto the network and thus provided almost ten million additional German citizens with fast mobile data connections. The quality of our network is improving bit by bit. This is also shown by independent network tests. This is a very big step forward, but also only a partial success. Despite all our efforts, there are still white spots in the network supply of rural areas - also in our network. We are working flat out on the construction of 7,600 LTE plants in 2020 to meet our expansion obligations in the extra time. It is also in the interests of our customers that we succeed in this. Admittedly, we would therefore like to be much faster and further ahead with the expansion. But even we cannot escape the corona influence in the eight-week global lockdown. One example: If only one supplier has to close a plant for a few days due to official orders in one country, our expansion will come to a halt. We do our utmost to deal with these additional challenges, but there is one thing we cannot do in this situation, which is completely new for all companies: magic!
Mobile infrastructure company must not negatively influence prices
Realistic planning and an open approach to obstacles are also essential when the state promotes the expansion of mobile communications coverage in white spots. The state should only intervene where it is absolutely uneconomical for companies to set up a station due to the small number of users. It is true that there is a coordinated approach between politics, business and local authorities to identify and develop these white spots. For the first time, there is a funding program for the expansion of mobile communications with a budget of 1.1 billion euros. This is expressly to be welcomed. It is a good day for mobile communications. However, the mobile communications infrastructure company planned by the Federal Government should under no circumstances enter into infrastructure competition with the network operators or negatively influence pricing on the market by awarding subsidies. Subsidies will quickly turn into new masts, especially if bureaucracy is reduced and approval procedures are accelerated. In this respect, we expressly welcome the additional efforts being made by the Federal Government and the federal states to shorten the previously paralyzing procedures from up to 18 months to three months in future. In order to further strengthen investments in the networks with a view to the future, the federal government should also become active in other ways. In the last auction, the operators had paid around 6.5 billion euros for frequency usage rights. Now the Federal Government is planning to return a total of well over EUR 6 billion - also as part of the economic stimulus package - almost the same amount as in 2019 - to the industry. And in order to ensure that these funds are returned to the same providers, a special authority is now being set up with the prospect of more than 100 employees, which is likely to take years. I am convinced that the money could have been better invested directly by the operators in the networks and thus enabled better supply for customers more quickly. Over the past 20 years, auctions have taken around 65 billion euros away from the market - and thus from network supply at the expense of the population - in this country. We would be fully digitized if we had invested the money directly in our infrastructure. And so we have created one: This is a unique obstacle to investment in Europe for an economy with an urgent need to catch up in digitization.
Industry can raise digital efficiencies through better networks
The forthcoming decisions on network policy and infrastructure funding are pointing the way ahead for the weal and woe of Germany's future viability in international competition. The current decade could become the decade of mobile communications and enable the leap to the top of the digital world in network infrastructure. Thus, the economic crisis triggered by the pandemic and the lessons learned from it can still become a digitization turbo for Germany. We are ready to make our contribution and act as a trampoline for the digitization of Germany. Because if we get better, if our networks get better, then the entire industry can build on this and raise "digital efficiencies". In addition to our 4G rollout, we are also pushing ahead with the expansion of 5G. In the second half of the year, we will launch our 5G network in Munich, Frankfurt, Cologne, Berlin and Hamburg. By the end of 2022, we will turn 30 medium-sized cities in Germany into 5G cities and supply a total of 16 million inhabitants with 5G. 5G will first make the difference for industry. As a partner to industry, we can enable companies with customized 5G networks to become digital factories. This will make production and logistics more efficient, cheaper and more sustainable. By 2022, we at Telefónica Deutschland will invest four billion euros in Germany's digital future. Far more than in previous investment periods. We want to actively shape the appropriate framework for future infrastructure expansion in dialog with politicians and our partners from the business world.
BDI Webtalk with CEO Markus Haas
"Our networks are better than their reputation, as the Corona crisis has shown impressively. The courage for rapid digitization is now there. We have to keep up the pace," Markus Haas, CEO Telefónica Deutschland, said in the BDI Webtalk on the occasion of Digital Day 2020. The discussion with Federal Minister Andreas Scheuer, BDI President Dieter Kempf, Wolfgang Weiß, Managing Director at the Center for Digital Development and moderator Iris Plöger came to the conclusion that we as a society must now make rapid use of digitization and the experience gained from the corona crisis. Acceptance and appreciation among the population has increased enormously. Politics, administration and companies have digitized much faster and more courageously than they would otherwise have done. The network expansion continues at full speed. Here, an accelerated approval procedure for mobile phone sites as well as federal subsidies for white spots should help."