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German villages to take the lead in €2.7bn superfast broadband programme

The German government is aiming for universal 50Mbps broadband coverage by 2018 through a major community-led programme

The German government has launched its first federal development programme to extend superfast broadband coverage across the country, promising speeds of around double those available in the UK under the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme.

German minister for transport and digital infrastructure, Alexander Dobrindt, said he would commit to a total spend of €2.7bn (£1.96bn) – around £200m more than is available in the BDUK pot – to provide minimum speeds of 50Mbps across the republic by 2018.

Like BDUK, Germany’s programme will specifically target areas where private companies are unlikely to extend their networks.

However, unlike BDUK it will be a community-led process – with towns and villages in rural areas of Germany initiating the extension of their networks and co-ordinating the process themselves.

There will be two models of funding available to communities through the programme.

The Funding Gap model, or Wirtschaftlichkeitslückenmodel, will provide funds to fill the gap in the market left by telecoms companies that have deemed certain communities economically unattractive.

Alternatively, the Operator Model, or Betreibermodell, will allow communities to fund the build of passive fibre infrastructure themselves, which they can then lease to internest service providers (ISPs).

A combination of both models will be available if wanted.

The federal government will contribute up to 50% of the total cost, up to €10m per project, and state-level development programmes will provide another 40%, with the communities having to find 10% of the cost themselves, said Dobrindt. Federal funding will be targeted where it is most urgently needed under a points-based scoring system.

German government figures suggest that, currently, 70% of households in the country have access to broadband speeds of over 50Mbps, up 7% on 2014.

In contrast, Ofcom’s most recent Communications Market Report for the UK claimed that 83% of UK properties could access superfast speeds of 30Mbps or higher. Note that Ofcom defines superfast as a speed 6Mbps higher than BDUK does.

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