December 4, 2017 / 9:03 AM / a year ago

German regulator urges broadband buildout; readies 5G spectrum

BONN, Germany, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Germany’s regulator on Monday urged the telecoms industry to speed up its buildout of the national high-speed broadband network and said it would make available spectrum for fifth-generation mobile services next year.

Germany has set a goal of providing nationwide internet with speeds of at least 50 megabits per second in 2018 but the technology relied on by market leader Deutsche Telekom - based on the old copper telephone network - cannot be easily upgraded further.

That would make it harder to realise the vision of a “Gigabit society” in which all businesses and households would have access to superfast glass fibre connections by 2025 - at a cost of 80 billion euros ($95 billion) or more.

“We can’t delay further investments into the distant future and risk missing out on the chances of digitalisation,” Jochen Homann, president of the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA), said in a statement released ahead of a news conference.

The BNetzA said that around 77 percent of households in Europe’s largest economy had access to the internet at speeds of 50 mbit/s and upward. That figure rises to 90 percent in towns but falls to just 36 percent in rural areas.

Around 13 percent of Germany’s 32.5 million broadband customers enjoy internet speeds of 100 mbit/s and more - double the level seen in mid-2015.

Demand for ultra-high-speed internet delivered via glass fibre remains very low, the BNetzA said. Even though 2.7 million households could have access to such connections, only a quarter have signed up. That will change.

“With increasing demands for performance it is clear that we have to think beyond the 50 mbit/s goal that was set for 2018. Germany needs Gigabit-capable infrastructure,” Homann also said.

The BNetzA said that, in preparation for the rollout of 5G services it would make available new mobile spectrum in 2018. The mobile standard would make it possible to put self-driving cars on the streets and run connected “smart” home appliances. ($1 = 0.8431 euros) (Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Ludwig Burger)

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