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Thursday, May 26, 2022

“Gigabit capital Berlin”: Senate and Internet companies are pushing expansion with fiber optics and 5G – Berlin

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It is not known what kind of data line Berlin’s Economics Senator Stephan Schwarz has booked for his private apartment with his internet provider. After all, it was stable enough that the politician without a party could participate in an important meeting via video on Monday afternoon, despite the quarantine, the constitutive meeting of the “Gigabit Capital” steering committee was held Berlin”.

It was the more or less solemn and binding beginning of a national expansion of the rapid Internet offer. The goal: Businesses and private customers in Berlin should be able to access all data at home and on the road at any time and without waiting. The basis for this body’s discussion was an earlier Senate decision in mid-June 2021, which agreed to the “gigabit strategy” after preliminary talks with major telcos. The word artificial refers to the claim that download speeds of one gigabit per second (equivalent to 1000 megabytes per second) can be achieved anywhere in Berlin.

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On Monday, Giffey, Schwarz, as well as representatives from Senate administrations, districts and six companies in the telecommunications industry reaffirmed their willingness to work together to implement the strategy. They signed a joint declaration in which all those involved declared their willingness to coordinate the necessary steps for a supply and quickly remove any obstacles that might arise.

“Today we reach an important milestone on the way to becoming the gigabit capital of Berlin,” Giffey said at the end of the meeting, which was also open to representatives of the press. Further expansion of digital infrastructure is “a requirement essential forerunner for the Berlin of the future both in the city center and on the outskirts”, he added. Crucially, “when we say nationally, we mean the entire country.”

Perspectives for suburban neighborhoods

The resolutions expressly refer to all towns and districts on the outskirts of Berlin, not just the Mitte district, where supply is already continuous. The plan strengthens Berlin’s competitiveness as a place of business and technology and promotes growth,” Giffey continued. “Good internet access has something to do with quality of life, with participation and with economic strength.”

Trade representatives from Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone Germany, Tele Columbus, Colt Technology Services, DNS:NET Internet Service and Vattenfall Eurofiber participated. The Telekom representative announced that his company intends to redouble efforts in the expansion of the fiber optic network. By 2030, two instead of a million Berlin households should be directly connected to such a fast data line, which Giffey and Schwarz welcomed.

Gigabit connections already available today

Connections with download rates of one gigabit (Gbit) or 1000 megabit (Mbit) per second are still rare today. Providers such as Deutsche Telekom or Vodafone can already offer this type of connection in selected residential areas, but not in all areas. In many areas, at best, a tenth of the future target download speed is available. With a transmission rate of one Gbit/s, the data of a full hour of Netflix movies or even 16 hours of music can be downloaded from Spotify in just one second.

Kick-off meeting of the “Gigabit Capital Berlin” steering group on Monday at the Euref campus in Schöneberg. On the screen: Franziska…Photo: Frédéric Schweizer

By 2030, providers want to have all homes with fiber optic connections (FTTB/H) or television cables connected using Hybrid Fiber Coax (HFC) technology. But navigation and streaming should also be possible without wires: By 2025 at the latest, Berlin should have complete coverage of all homes, company locations and above-ground transport routes with the latest 5G mobile communications standard. 5G enables even faster transmission speeds. But suitable end devices are required for this.

Companies should largely handle financing on their own

The Senator of Economy highlighted the importance of digital infrastructure for the future of local companies and explained that the standardization and simplification of applications are also important to facilitate the work of Internet companies. “It’s also about promoting alternative placement methods to avoid construction sites,” added Schwarz. Finding a location for cell towers should also be simplified.

The senator also assured the administration that he would be willing to help, but took the opportunity to clarify that the financing would have to come mainly from the telecommunications companies themselves. “We assume that the essential supply can be provided by the market.” At most, one could speak of targeted incentives in the case of smaller gaps.

Berlin Mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) at the opening meeting of the steering committee on Monday. To her left: …Photo: Frédéric Schweizer

With the declaration, “all relevant actors for the implementation of the gigabit strategy agreed to work together to achieve the goals of the strategy, remove obstacles to expansion, and promote gigabit economic expansion of telecommunications companies through favorable framework conditions.” to investment,” the joint statement said the statement. Measures for the most pressing challenges, both in terms of wireline connections and expansion of 5G mobile communications, have been identified and prioritized and are now being implemented at the specialist level. The Senate’s Department for Economics, Energy and Public Enterprises is responsible for the state of Berlin and is coordinating the gigabit expansion.

Until then, improvisation is required.

The steering committee with participants from the administration and companies must be the central monitoring and control body to achieve these objectives. In addition, specialists meet in working groups to prepare detailed questions for decision makers. The committees should meet “several times” a year, she said.

Apparently, individual stopgap solutions are needed before politicians, administrators and network operators have closed the supply gaps. Coincidence or not: Also on Monday, local retail networks on Kurfürstendamm and Tauentzien announced that they had installed public WiFi for visitors along the 1.2-kilometre shopping mile. Journalists reporting on the Euref campus on Monday would have been happy about that. There was no free internet.


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