Germany’s federal government and states have been wrangling for months over how to accelerate the construction of high-speed Internet in the country. According to a draft of the 2015 budget set for adoption in Germany’s parliament this week, it looks like the end is in sight.
Both parties will split the money from auctioning off the 700 megaherz and the 1.5 gigaherz radio frequencies and use it to expand the high-speed network.
The auction is to take place in the second quarter of 2015, providing the federal government and states can reach agreement with the chancellor.
“Without an equal split there can be no agreement,” the states’ negotiators had repeatedly emphasized, and had broken off talks with the federal government.
The federal coalition government’s plan is to enable all households to have a fast Internet service with speeds of 50 megabits a second by 2018. Not all Germans household have speeds of even 2 megabits a second at their disposal today.
Mobile broadband is set to provide widespread access to fast Internet service.
“In principle, the states are in agreement with the division of the proceeds,” said Jacqueline Kraege, the lead negotiator of the states governed by the Social Democrat Party (SPD).
Now it is all about “arranging how the funds will be used and the modalities of the transfer of auction proceeds to the federal government and the states,” said Ms. Kraege.
Up to now these frequencies were used by the broadcasting corporations for their digital television service (DVB-T). The broadcasters would have to convert to the new digital standard, DVB-T2 earlier than they had planned.
That costs a lot of money – also for DVB-T users, who would have to buy new receiver units. Some states want to see that subsidized. Theaters and concert halls using the frequency for radio microphones are also faced with costs, and will also want compensation.
A source involved in the negotiations said auction proceeds would possibly be paid out in installments over a number of years. For the states’ part, they have to clarify how to divide up the money between themselves and whether they use the proceeds solely for broadband expansion or also use it for the expansion of public Wi-Fi networks.