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Post: Dead spots: What is the situation in Germany?


Hundreds of dead spots in Germany must be closed by early 2023. The Federal Network Agency is currently checking the work of network operators – has reception improved?

A former dead zone where the head of the Federal Network Agency is traveling is located in an idyllic rural setting. But the relaxed atmosphere had a price: until recently the mobile phone network in Mehren in the Westerwald (Rhineland-Palatinate) was dead; There was no 4G reception in a three by two kilometer area.

Three network operators declared that the dead zone is now history. To check this, the Federal Network Agency sent a measuring instrument and its President Klaus Müller also flew to visit. Regarding the information from Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefónica Deutschland (O2), Müller says:

Trust is good, control is better.

Klaus Müller, President of the Federal Network Agency

Mandatory to close dead zone: Providers highlight challenges

Providers had to cover 500 4G dead spots by the beginning of this year. Mehren village is one of them. Only some of the 500 dead spots were closed; in others, companies cited legal or factual challenges; for example, no property owner wants to rent a space.

It is said to have worked on Mehren: The dead zone is supposedly a thing of the past. Radio masts were erected in the middle of the forest. Now the question is whether they are also sent well. Measurement engineer Markus Busch traveled in a minibus with a colleague for four days to analyze the quality of the network.

Download speed: At least 100 megabits per second required

From Mehren we head to Ziegenhain and Hahn, a route that can be found on online hiking maps. Walkers need to get a good network in Germany at least in some places, according to the requirement that telecommunications providers committed to in the frequency auction in 2019. Download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second should also be possible in the 500 existing 4G dead spots (“white spots”).

However, this is almost an ideal value; If several people are in a radio cell, they share the network capacity. Even if the expansion requirements are met in events where a large number of people come, problems may still occur. Population expectations are rising – “Streaming movies, playing mobile phone games and downloading or uploading large files; people want to do this on the go – wherever they are,” says Authority boss Müller.

The ratio of dead spots has changed

But this also means that telecommunications providers have to invest a lot of money in relatively little-used transmission towers. Does it make sense to have a good network down to the last milk carton? In the internet age, yes, says Müller. “That’s what people and politicians expect, and that’s what we’re striving for.”

According to figures from the Federal Network Agency Only 2.6 percent of the area in April 2023 white spots, year before it still had value 3.7 percent meaning none of the three network operators broadcast there.

There were gray spots where only one or two network operators were transmitting April 2023 Open 16.7 percent land area, one year ago them 24.7 percent.

The Federal Network Agency checks network operator information only randomly

The numbers show things are getting better. This is also emphasized by telecommunication companies, which point to high investments. According to Vodafone, around 2,900 new radio stations and more than 3,800 LTE technology upgrades have been launched since the 2019 auction.

While inspections of the measuring tool in Westerwald focus on expansion obligations from 2019, the head of the authority, Müller, is looking ahead. Next year, the authority wants to set conditions for the next frequency allocation; The first proposal for this will be published in the coming weeks.

What are the results of survey vehicle tours in the Westerwald? Engineer Busch smiles. “It looks good: the white spot is neither white nor grey; it’s not even a dot anymore.” The information provided by the network operators was correct. However, it is not yet known whether this is the case for all dead spots that are assumed to be closed; The competent authority only takes sample measurements.

Source: ZDF

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