Mobile expansion: opposition parties warn of delays

The Greens and FDP have warned of delays in expanding mobile communications in Germany. The background is the establishment of a mobile communications infrastructure company (MIG).

The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) applied for the release of 160 million euros for the new company, according to a letter from the Ministry of Finance to the budget committee. Specifically, it is about a so-called agency agreement. This should actually happen in 2020. In addition, the ministry is requesting the release of previously blocked funds of 35 million euros.

The company was founded with effect from January 1, 2021 as a subsidiary of the state-owned truck toll operator Toll Collect. According to the letter, an agency agreement between the BMVI and the MIG is mandatory. Without the contract, MIG could in particular neither recruit its own staff to the required extent nor rent the appropriate office space, nor could it develop an urgently needed portal.

With a further delay, the goal of promoting up to 4,400 “blank spots” by the year 2025 by building up to 5,000 4G locations may no longer be achieved with certainty.

The federal government announced this goal in June 2020 after a mobile communications summit with the federal government, states, municipalities and network operators. For this, the federal government wants to set up a funding program of 1.1 billion euros. The EU has to approve the program.

In a response from the Ministry of Transport to an FDP request, it was said that there were currently coordination with the EU Commission. The mobile phone subsidy should start in the first half of 2021. Funds could then flow out and locations could be realized.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Transport said that once the funds have been released by the budget committee, MIG will be able to conclude an agency agreement with the ministry that runs until 2025 and is ready to be signed. The same applies to the lease for the company’s headquarters in Naumburg, which is also ready to be signed, and to employment contracts.

The mobile telephony funding program has now been finally coordinated with the European Commission, and all open points have been mutually clarified. “The formal approval process will most likely be completed in spring 2021.” At the same time, the MIG is working with the mobile phone companies to identify possible development areas.

A spokesman for Telefónica Deutschland said: “We are in contact with the responsible ministries for the MIG and support the implementation of the underlying funding program. For the work of the MIG, we will provide the state society with the necessary data for the definition of target expansion regions. ”

At the same time he said: “Basically, however, it is more expedient to leave investment funds directly with the expanding network operators instead of redistributing funds collected by the operators via expensive frequency auctions with a delay and via complex subsidy programs and state structures back to the operators. Accordingly, we are committed to extending existing frequencies in the future. ”Parallel to the work of the MIG, there are concrete cooperative approaches by the network operators and remaining network gaps to be closed.

A spokesman for Deutsche Telekom said: “MIG should only provide support where commercial expansion is not profitable. And it can help where bureaucratic obstacles prevent expansion. ”

The FDP transport politician Torsten Herbst said that an additional cell phone site has not yet been developed, which is an indictment of the government’s digital policy.

The Greens refused to allow the budget committee to release the funds for the MIG. “Instead of launching a new mega-agency and wasting years with it, the federal government should give companies clear guidelines for expanding their networks,” demanded budget politicians Sven-Christian Kindler and Margit Stumpp, experts in digital infrastructures.


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