EU Commission approves €3 billion plan to expand Germany's broadband infrastructure

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Germany is planning a €3 billion national scheme to support the roll-out of next-generation access (NGA) broadband networks; a plan which has now been approved by the European Commission after being found to comply with EU state aid rules. 

Due to the 2013 Broadband State Aid Guidelines, public funding into networks must be available to all competitors in order to prevent unfair discrimination. Investment by the government is being supplied in order to help build the infrastructure to support high-speed internet access across the entire country - with a focus on improving rural areas. 

Margrethe Vestager, EU Commissioner in charge of competition policy, said: “This aid scheme will make faster broadband services available also in areas of Germany where private investment is lacking. At the same time it ensures that consumers have a choice,” 

“It also shows that EU state aid rules enable member states to work with the Commission, to stimulate investment in infrastructure to create a true Digital Single Market.” 

Claims the investment will help the EU meet its goal of a digital single market has been used to help receive approval of the investment. The EU is pushing for a single market in order to make content and services available no matter what member state they operate in with the same rules and regulations for all.

A current target has been set to meet at least 50Mbps speeds across the nation by 2018.

Germany's broadband investment plans were first announced in February last year. Private operators and municipalities can apply for target area funding, where only limited broadband access is available and where there are no plans to develop the NGA over the next three years. 

The NGA network hopes to provide speeds of at least 30 Mbps, but believes speeds could be as high as around 50 Mbps in many cases. Households and businesses will be treated without a preference for one or the other to ensure as many people as possible receive the benefits of the investment no matter if they are at home or at work. 

A current target has been set to meet at least 50 Mbps speeds across the nation by 2018. In order to help meet this goal, a network alliance has been established called 'Netzallianz Digitales Deutschland' who will monitor progress and ensure co-operation across the industry to ensure a better infrastructure for Germany is provided as quick as possible. 

One concern remains for the EU Commission and that's a proposal for 'vectoring' to supplement the NGA - which can boost connectivity speeds - but at the potential cost of only one provider being able to serve a collection of houses. 

Current vectoring implementations do not ensure "open" access to the network - which is against the 2013 Broadband State Aid Guidelines. Germany has announced it plans to present a new access product to the EU Commission which is capable of granting full access to vectored networks for competitors. 

Do you feel the EU Commission is right to be concerned by vectored networks? Let us know in the comments.

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ioannis_k
24 Jun 2015, 6:11 p.m.

The question here is about the choice between vectoring OR competition. Current implementations of vectoring (which significantly increases VDSL2 speeds) essentially require that ONLY ONE service provider's equipment is deployed in the fiber-fed cabinet, and therefore ONLY that provider may serve the customers served out of that cabinet. In my opinion, this is a false premise, because there are ways to have vectoring AND competition, for example the method shown here: www.google.com/patents/US20140362677

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