Digitization will remain one of the hot topics for politics and society in the coming years. The goal: to establish a comprehensive, gigabit-capable infrastructure for Germany. At the same time, critical voices from politics and national associations complain that Germany is far behind in broadband development. As evidence of this, they sometimes quote studies whose statistical foundation, and thus validity, is more than questionable. In fact, a modern legend has become popularized lately: when it comes to cellular technology and LTE coverage, Germany is like a developing country. If you want to surf quickly and reliably on the go, you'd better live somewhere else. This conclusion was drawn by self-appointed experts, based on figures provided by OpenSignal, a British company – but accepted without any scrutiny.
The numbers from OpenSignal are not reliable. Their survey is based on participants who have to download an app. It is unknown who the participants are or when the measurements take place. That's why the results are dubious when it comes to making statements about the actual state of broadband.
OpenSignal does not provide any information about how many people in Germany actually use their app – but despite the meager data provided, they have produced a ranking in which Germany takes one of the bottom spots in LTE coverage.
The reality is quite different, however.
Germany has one of the best wireless communications infrastructures worldwide – due in large part to investments by Deutsche Telekom. We have LTE coverage of 94 percent and reach top speeds in the mobile Internet. This is documented by a study from Akamai, which measures transmission speeds directly in the Internet.
According to these figures, Germany takes third place in Europe, behind the UK and Cyprus. Figures from the German government's "broadband atlas" also contradict the OpenSignal data. According to the atlas, LTE availability in Germany reached around 96 percent in the second half of 2017; some cities even have 100-percent coverage.
And Deutsche Telekom makes a significant contribution to this excellent coverage, as tests have shown again and again. "The best network", said Chip magazine (German only) most recently.
Despite these excellent values, we continue to upgrade the LTE network selectively. To this end, we are increasing the investments of Deutsche Funkturm, which is responsible for the antenna sites, by around 100 million euros in the current year. This will allow us to significantly increase build-out work to mobile sites from around 500 per year on average in recent years to some 2,000 a year in the medium term.
The goal: LTE coverage of 98 percent of the population by the end of 2019. In parallel, we will methodically work to localize and eliminate coverage gaps on the freeways and significantly improve coverage along rail routes and in rural areas.
Our upgrades don't stop there, either. We have 5G in our sights: the new telecommunications standard that can integrate the fixed-line and mobile networks. We are completely on schedule for 5G, to ensure things can kick off in 2020. Overall, 5G offers up to 1,000 times the capacity, 100 times the connection density, 10 times the speed, and 10 times lower latency. Deutsche Telekom is already setting technological records on the way there. We recently had a world premiere for 5G interoperability, for example, together with a strong partner. After all, a prerequisite for 5G is that the complete ecosystem speaks the same language, end-to-end, enabling seamless interaction between components from different manufacturers. Incidentally, we are also the first company in Europe to deploy 5G antennas in the live mobile communications network, back in 2017.
If Germany is a "developing country", then in the positive sense of researching and developing 5G, the network of the future. In addition to setting a variety of 5G records, Deutsche Telekom is the first European company to install the first 5G antennas, in Berlin.
Reality check shows a good position
When it comes to the fixed network, as well, it is a popular myth that Germany is a developing country. A reality check paints a different picture, as Deutsche Telekom's figures alone already prove.
By the end of 2017, we alone have connected some 71 percent of households in Germany to our fiber-optic network. That’s over 30 million households in total. By the end of 2018, we intend to connect around 80 percent of households (some 33 million).
By the end of 2018, Deutsche Telekom plans to cover some 26 million households with bandwidths of up to 100 Mbps. There are already 19 million such households today.
15 million households will even enjoy top speeds of up to 250 Mbps by the end of the year.
As such, Germany is already among Europe's leading broadband nations. Offering broadband coverage of 30 Mbps and more to over 80 percent of households, Germany even comes in ahead of countries that emphasize fiber-optic connections (FTTH), according to figures from the European Commission.
Another popular accusation in Deutsche Telekom's direction is that we are still relying on obsolete copper technology. That, too, is wrong. Today, Deutsche Telekom is installing fiber optics almost exclusively: to the street cabinets as well as to households (that is, FTTH).
Take Vorpommern-Rügen county, for example, where some 40,000 households in 63 municipalities will be upgraded to speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second by late 2019. Deutsche Telekom won this Europe-wide tender, the largest project of its kind in Germany.
Our business customers, in particular, are the most likely to need gigabit speeds at present. That makes them an important element of our upgrade strategy: in the coming years, we intend to connect some 3,000 business parks to the gigabit network. That equates to around 80 percent of business locations within the parks with around 400,000 businesses and millions of workers.
This year, we will install 60,000 kilometers of fiber-optic cables, increasing Deutsche Telekom's fiber-optic network to more than 500,000 kilometers. Our closest competitor has barely managed 60,000 kilometers.
All this shows: No other company is driving broadband build-out forward as much as Deutsche Telekom. We are investing more than five billion euros in Germany each year. We don't just talk; we continue to build.
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DT invests several billion euros every year in building networks.