The German government decided on Monday to commit €1.1 billion to cover Germany’s many digital deserts, deemed “embarrassing” for Europe’s largest economy.
The money will be used to build up to 5,000 new mobile telephone poles by 2024 and thus increase coverage to 97.5% of the country’s territory.
At the same time, the administration wishes to simplify the planning process, the Government announced on Monday from Meseberg, near Berlin, where it held a meeting.
For their part, private telecommunication groups have promised to build 6,000 new poles.
Economic Affairs Minister Peter Altmaier had said last year that it was very embarassing to have to call ministers abroad three of four times when a connection is lost during long road trips.
Emblematic of the challenges facing the sector, a direct interview with a journalist from the public ARD channel was interrupted by a connection failure as he was reporting on the ministerial council meeting in Meseberg.
Chancellor Angela Merkel explained to the press that there was no shortage of investments for the moment, but that the problem had to do, rather, with planning the new poles, which was very time-consuming.
New mobile telephone infrastructure projects often face resistance from local populations fearful of the negative effects of radio-eletric rays on health. Berlin is planning a new communication campaign to allay those fears.
Merkel reasserted that the Chinese telecommunication equipment manufacturer, Huawei, should not be excluded from the construction of the next-generation 5G network in Germany, although this has raised objections within her own party.
U.S. and German security services have warned against the close ties between Huawei and Beijing.
Merkel said Germany’s authorities were convinced that security levels needed to be beefed up. This did not have to do with individual companies, she stressed, “but with security norms and how we shall certify them ourselves.”