The Federal Mobile Infrastructure Company (MIG) has not yet started operations, as the Federal Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure (BMVI) is already making plans to significantly expand its area of responsibility. Instead of just plugging the holes in the LTE network, as previously planned, the MIG could in future also be responsible for expanding 5G or even the broadband infrastructure. The BMVI has confirmed corresponding “preliminary considerations”.
Actually, the MIG should be a temporary instrument to close supply gaps in the mobile radio networks: Where the network operators do not do it for economic reasons, the federal government builds antenna locations and thus closes the “white spots” on the mobile radio map. For this purpose, up to 5,000 mobile radio sites are to be set up and connected. The federal government wants this to cost up to 1.1 billion euros.
Approval subject to conditions
The Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF) has given its approval subject to certain conditions. Initially, MIG should concentrate on closing the gaps in the LTE network. It would therefore be foreseeable that the MIG’s task should be completed in a few years – and that it will no longer be needed. A possible expansion of the area of responsibility according to the articles of association would also mean the continued existence of the quasi-authority, but requires new coordination with the BMF.
Although the MIG is not even ready to work, Infrastructure Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU) is apparently already striving to install it permanently. The deliberations “on possible tasks of the MIG in relation to the nationwide 5G development” are “not yet completed”, said the BMVG in response to a request from the parliamentary group of the Greens. “Conceptual preliminary considerations are currently taking place.” “Scientific expertise will also be obtained”. As soon as the BMVI has a concept of what new tasks the MIG could get, the ministry also wants to “approach the departments concerned”.
The Federal Audit Office saw this coming – and calls for a clear delimitation of the area of responsibility, also in order to avoid overlaps with other institutions such as the gigabit office of the federal government or DB Broadband GmbH. The auditors warn of the “risk of uncoordinated coexistence” and state “otherwise” that the expansion of the MIG’s competence to 5G and broadband contradicts “the conditions imposed by the BMF in the context of its approval for the establishment of the MIG”.
The federally owned Funkloch-Gesellschaft founded at the end of 2020 is already controversial. Critics point out that the Federal Network Agency is also well positioned for the intended tasks. That would also save a lot of money. After all, existing structures of the network agency could be used and a completely new company would not have to be built from scratch. The BMVI had already chosen Naumburg in Saxony-Anhalt as the location for the new quasi-authority.
An “absurd idea” thinks VATM boss Jürgen Grützner is the expansion of responsibility operated by the BMVI to the fixed network area. The expansion of the networks is “not a state task”. The state is only allowed to intervene if it doesn’t work any other way. That is why there is “no need for action at all” with regard to the 5G expansion that has just started. Rather, the ministry wants to relocate the Federal Network Agency’s competencies to its own new authority. “We need better funding procedures and not a new authority,” emphasizes Grützner.
The planned expansion of the MIG’s area of responsibility is also a clear indication for the green member of the Bundestag, Sven-Christian Kindler, that a new authority is to be created here permanently within the sphere of influence of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. “Here a new authority is being built out of the ground, which should only be founded under strict conditions after tough disputes between the transport and finance ministries,” says Kindler. “Now that the MIG has been founded, the Ministry of Transport is starting to deliberately circumvent the requirements. Scheuer ignores these requirements without blinking an eye.”