Millions of Germans are currently experiencing in their home office what it means when a country lags behind with broadband connections. Now the opposition is increasing pressure on the government.
When will Germany finally surf faster? The federal government’s promises have been enormous for years. Providing faster online connections to all Germans by 2018 at the latest – that was the goal at the start of the past grand coalition. “So that there are no more white spots on the map,” said then Transport and Digital Minister Alexander Dobrindt (CSU). The old groko left, the problems remained.
The new Groko started two years ago and with it new promises. In the coalition agreement, she even anchored a legal claim to fast internet until 2025. But so far, this revolution has also failed to materialize. In the corona crisis, millions of Germans in their home office experience what it means when a country lags behind with broadband connections.
Political pressure on the government will increase significantly this week. Because the opposition sees an urgent need for action. According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung In the next few days the Greens want to bring an application to the Bundestag to make fast internet “immediately” the basic right of the Germans – not only in five years. In the paper already adopted by the parliamentary group, they are calling on the federal government to define broadband internet as a general service within the framework of universal service. The legal claim should not only be based on individual services such as e-mails or online banking, but should be based on the bandwidth used by the majority of the connected participants and “dynamically adjusted”, the paper says.
The move is seen as a political slap in the face of the government. She is actually planning something similar, but has been making slow progress for months. Chancellor-in-Office Helge Braun had already announced his own advance at the beginning of the year. But officially there is still nothing. A draft speaker for the new version of the Telecommunications Act has been circulating for several days. According to this, future end users should have the right to be provided with telecommunication services “at their main residence or business location”. However, only “within a reasonable period”. A minimum level of transmission rate is not prescribed. And whether the not particularly ambitious design is really coming is not certain.
Time is running out
The government is still fighting for the plan. They are working hard on a solution, according to Peter Altmaier’s (CDU) Federal Ministry of Economics, which is responsible together with Andreas Scheuer’s Ministry of Transport and Digital (CSU). The matter could still go on, according to government circles. In addition, changes to the draft are possible, which so far also provides for a corporation levy to promote fast rural networks. Time is of the essence. Several million households are still not connected at 50 megabits per second or more. In addition to the lack of broadband cables, the lack of services on the part of providers is also a problem for Germans. This was made clear by the evaluation of broadband measurements, which the Federal Network Agency publishes once a year. Only a good 16 percent of users reach the bandwidths promised by their telecom provider.
The Greens are therefore demanding tough steps from the government. Residents in poorly served areas should, according to the application, be entitled to at least the same broadband coverage as most Germans. “We call for a minimum bandwidth to be determined, which is based on the bandwidth already used by the majority of citizens,” said Margit Stumpp, media spokeswoman for the Greens. Ten megabits per second should be the bare minimum. It is realistic that the required minimum transmission rate will be 30 megabits per second in one to two years.
In addition, the Greens want to increase the pressure on the telecommunications industry to really make the booked data rates available. “It is difficult to imagine that service providers in another area will consistently remain as far below the contractually guaranteed performance without the risk of serious consequences as is the case with telecommunications providers,” said Tabea Roessner, Greens spokeswoman for network policy and consumer protection . The application therefore does not only provide for compensation for customers. The government is also expected to expand sanctioning options for the Federal Network Agency. According to the paper, it should “impose sales-related fines of up to four percent of the annual sales generated in Germany in the relevant business area in the previous financial year”.