The scheme will help bridge a digital divide by enabling 4G and 5G mobile network technologies in remote areas

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The EC has approved the €2.1bn German scheme aimed at providing high speed mobile communication services in underserved areas. (Credit: Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay)

The European Commission (EC) has approved a €2.1bn German aid scheme for supporting the roll-out of infrastructure needed for providing high-speed mobile communication services in underserved areas in Germany.

The funding from the scheme will be used by Germany towards the deployment, operation, and provision of access to high performance mobile infrastructure in areas that currently have only 2G and other low-end networks.

Under the scheme, Germany will be able to bring 4G and 5G mobile network technology in the areas to enable high-speed internet connections.

It will be implemented by Mobilfunkinfrastrukturgesellschaft, a newly established state-owned entity.

The scheme will see the German government offer grants to firms that build and operate masts, ducts, dark fibre, and other passive infrastructure required for enabling voice and mobile data services.

According to the EC, the beneficiaries of the scheme can be mobile network operators, fibre optic companies, and specialised construction firms.

Areas where mobile networks are yet to be deployed and where only 2G mobile services and below are available will be able to qualify to benefit from the scheme. Besides, areas where no private firm intends to deploy 4G mobile networks and above in the near future, will be able to get a share from the government scheme.

The selection of the beneficiaries will be done by means of an open, transparent, and non-discriminatory competitive process, said the Commission.

Overall, the regulator found the scheme to be incentive to mobile network operators and other beneficiaries, while promoting connectivity. Furthermore, the Commission assessed that the scheme will help in addressing a market failure in thinly populated and topographically difficult regions of Germany.

European Commission executive vice-president Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “All mobile network operators will obtain access to the infrastructure on equal terms, so the scheme will foster competition to the benefit of consumers. It will bridge a digital divide, reduce inequalities and ensure seamless communication.

“We have worked closely with German authorities to enable public money being channelled into areas that are most in need of better connectivity, in line with the EU’s ambition to achieve performant mobile voice and data connectivity everywhere in Europe.”