Germany may take wireless broadband for rural areas
Internet providers called Wednesday for Germany to free up radio frequencies so that rural villages can hook up to broadband services. ( dpa )
Last year Germany hooked up 5 million high-speed internet connections to homes and offices, bringing its total lines to 20 million. But it is too expensive to lay cables to isolated country places.
Officials and telecoms executives debated what to do next at the CeBIT computer industry fair in Hanover.
They heard that 7 to 8 per cent of households are connected to low-quality phone lines that cannot be speeded up much, while 3 to 4 per cent do not even have that: they must rely on expensive satellite uplinks.
Bernd Pfaffenbach, secretary of state at the German Economics Ministry, called for a "joint effort" to fix the problem, but said he would not direct Germany's biggest telco, Deutsch Telekom, to lay unprofitable wires.
He admitted Germany was still years behind comparable nations in the spread of broadband.
Harald Stoeber of the communications industry federation Bitkom said Germany's 16 states had to be prompted to give up frequencies that would soon be released when analogue television is replaced by digital service.
Stoeber is chief executive of the second biggest telephone company, Arcor.
Radio data signals are used in many countries to create wide area networks when the cost of laying cables is too great.