Berlin The federal government warns the federal states against the planned right to fast Internet for everyone to delay. “The universal service is not a means for the nationwide fiber optic expansion, but can only be a safety net for economic and social participation,” said the parliamentary state secretary in the Federal Ministry of Transport, Daniela Kluckert, the Handelsblatt.
If the data speeds of the universal service proposed by the federal government were revised upwards by the federal states, this would slow down the regular fiber optic expansion. All resources would then have to be directed to the most remote and hard-to-reach areas, such as those for universal care FDP-Politician explained. “Nobody can seriously want that. Rather, we need rapid and nationwide expansion.”
This Friday, the Federal Council will discuss the “Ordinance on the minimum requirements for the right to be provided with telecommunications services” presented by the federal government. It is intended to ensure that telecommunications providers will in future enable all households to have Internet access, no matter how remote they are. “Voice communication services and a fast Internet access service must at least be available for appropriate social and economic participation,” says the requirement in the Telecommunications Act.
In a corresponding ordinance, the Federal Network Agency on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Transport, what this means in concrete terms: ten megabits (Mbit) per second when downloading data and 1.7 Mbit per second when uploading. The delay, the so-called latency, should be up to 150 milliseconds. The basic technical data enable network operators to supply remote houses via satellite instead of connecting them to the data network via cable, which is time-consuming and expensive.
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Despite major concerns, the SPD, Greens and FDP had a majority in the Digital Committee of the Bundestag in mid-May the rules presented too late by the Ministry approved in a hurry, because according to the law, the ordinance must have been in force since June. At the same time, the coalition factions had instructed the government to check the performance data for their suitability for multi-person households and, if in doubt, to correct the values after a year.
Bavaria and Lower Saxony want to supply areas with fiber optics right away
But the federal states do not want to wait that long. Right from the start of the right to high-speed Internet, they are demanding a cable-based connection, since satellites are less powerful. Bavaria and Lower Saxony have submitted an application to the state chamber.
The Bavarian Finance Minister Albert Füracker (CSU) told the Handelsblatt that it was “difficult to understand that the federal government would come to the conclusion in 2022 that ten Mbit per second would be fast enough” and referred to the definition of the European Commission. You describe 30 Mbit per second as fast. “At least the EU definition of fast internet must be the minimum and thus a safety net for people.”
Bavaria and Lower Saxony are characterized by rural structures. The interest in supplying these areas with fiber optic cables and not via satellite is correspondingly high.
The network operators, however, refer to the scarce construction capacities. They needed this capacity to connect many households at once at short notice. “Even in the country, a family of four must be able to use the possibilities of digitization – and at the same time,” counters Füracker. “Fast internet is the key to equal living conditions in town and country. I appeal to the federal government to reconsider its position and to comply with the demands of the federal states, but also of consumer protection groups.”
“It is difficult to understand that the federal government will come to the conclusion in 2022 that ten Mbit per second would be fast enough.” Bavaria’s Finance Minister Albert Füracker (CSU)
The states receive support not only from the CDU/CSU parliamentary group. Consumer advocates also require stable data speeds of at least 30 Mbit per second when downloading data. The head of the Federal Association of Consumer Organizations (VZBV), Jutta Gurkmann, considers this to be “a good compromise solution”. It is about “a future-oriented and participation-oriented broadband basic service,” says a letter that is available to the Handelsblatt.
Traffic light parties want to avoid failure in the Bundesrat
As it was said in state circles, the SPD, Greens and FDP would try to influence their respective state governments so that the regulation passed the state chamber despite all the criticism. “It’s about avoiding a spectacular failure in the Bundesrat.”
The mood among the states was therefore “confusing” shortly before the Federal Council meeting, as one state said. A spokesman for the Lower Saxony Ministry of Economics said when asked that everything was possible: from an increase to 30 Mbit per second to a change-free approval of ten Mbit to a complete rejection of the regulation with the abbreviation TKMV. “The latter is not entirely unlikely.”
More Handelsblatt articles on internet coverage in Germany
The Federal Ministry of Transport has tried to refute the arguments of the states with a six-page position paper. For example, there is no scientific evidence that data consumption increases with the number of household members. At the same time, however, the ministry concedes “that a better database would have been desirable before the TKMV was created”.
Nevertheless, the ministry wants to prevent failure: The official state secretary in the Federal Ministry of Transport, Stefan Schnorr, warned the federal states in a letter this week of “considerable procedural delays of several months”. The federal government would then have to change the ordinance and again obtain the approval of the Bundestag and the Bundesrat before it could come into force. New reports may be required beforehand.
“Due to the existing massive substantive and legal concerns, it can then be assumed that the requirements for Internet access services and voice communication services to be specified in the TKMV would have to be redetermined on a scientifically sound basis,” Schnorr wrote. He appealed that everyone should be interested in “helping the households that are actually in need – because they are poorly cared for or not cared for at all – as quickly as possible”. Therefore, the federal states should let the ordinance “pass unchanged” in the Bundesrat.