Digitization: fast internet too slow? Committees demand more speed


    Anyone who downloads less than 10 megabits per second at home has a right to improvement – this is what the federal government plans to do. The Federal Council is now saying that the minimum requirement is not enough.

    Internet users who only get an extreme snail’s pace in the domestic fixed network can have faint hopes that a legal claim will be strengthened.

    So far, the federal government’s plans have stipulated that downloading at 10 megabits per second and uploading at 1.7 megabits must be possible everywhere in Germany. If you have less, you can go to the Federal Network Agency. The authority could then arrange for the laying of better lines. Now, however, two requests to speak from the Federal Council are known, which call for a significant increase in the minimum level.

    Transport Committee calls for 30.8 megabits

    The majority of the Transport Committee of the Federal Chamber of States, which is responsible for this topic, voted for a download speed of 30.8 megabits – more than three times as much as the Federal Government intends. The upload minimum should increase from 1.7 to 5.2 megabits. This emerges from documents from the Federal Council on Tuesday, which are available to the German Press Agency and which the “Welt” also reported on.

    It is about a regulation on the right to fast internet. A law on this came into force at the end of 2021 – it is the first legal right to a broadband fixed network. However, it is still unclear how high the minimum level will be. This is regulated by a regulation that has already received the green light from the Bundestag.

    The recommendation of the Federal Council’s Transport Committee states that the specifications planned so far are “underambitious and not timely”. “Adequate provision of all people in Germany with telecommunications services has become indispensable, for example to enable distance work, distance learning and telemedicine.” However, the position of the committee is controversial, as the result of the vote shows: Lower Saxony’s application was followed by six other federal states. There were four abstentions and five votes against.

    Vote in the Federal Council on June 10th

    The Consumer Protection Committee, which only has an advisory role on this topic, also called for a significantly higher lower limit than previously planned, namely 30 megabits for downloads and 3.4 megabits for uploads. The plenary session of the Federal Council is scheduled to vote on June 10th.

    The two requests to speak are surprisingly ambitious. However, they are not a clear indication of where the journey is headed – in the Federal Council the attitudes of the specialist committees and the plenum are often different.

    Internet industry warns of a slowdown in the pace of expansion

    The Internet industry takes a critical view of the new legal entitlement and warns against commissioning construction companies to lay cables to remote houses. After all, this would mean that the already scarce construction capacity would be missing elsewhere – namely where the excavators could help many more households to better Internet.

    In response to the demands of the two Federal Council committees, the Federal Association for Broadband Communication (Breko) made it clear on Friday that it considered the increase recommended by the committees to be excessive. “Should the federal states prevail with their demands, that would be the end of the federal government’s fiber optic targets,” said Sven Knapp from Breko. “Companies would be forced to change their existing expansion plans and reprioritise in order to connect individual households across Germany.” This would lead to a drastic slowdown in the pace of expansion.