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Germany to fork out BEELLLIONS for farmers' broadband

Companies getting assistance with infrastructure

Under-investing cable companies in Germany are to get a €2.7bn hand-out to bring high-speed broadband to the countryside.

Federal Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt told national daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that the grants wil be given in an effort to give every German household speeds of at least 50Mbps by 2018.

Dobrindt said the industry does not invest enough in the deployment of broadband networks, particularly to rural areas where there is a poor return on investment, but he hopes the funding will change all that.

The grants will typically represent around 10 per cent of the roll-out cost, but in certain cases could be as high as 50 per cent.

Of the total €1.33bn will be raised from mobile spectrum auctions.

The remaining €1.4bn will come from the country’s coffers. But not just anyone will be awarded a grant: the Ministry of Transport has drawn up a complex scoring system to ensure that resources are targeted where they are most needed.

Dobrindt stressed that projects must be “technology-neutral”, but mobile or wireless networks will be considered where they best suit regional conditions.

Municipalities and counties will apply for the federal grants and act as the go-betweens on projects. They can either use their own resources directly or work with an established telecommunications company.

In the latter case, of course, any hand-outs must be in line with European Union state aid rules – something Deutsche Telekom sees as a problem.

“The deployment of broadband networks will be blocked by the EU competition authorities unnecessarily. The funding could be used much more efficiently,” said a company spokesman.

Dobrindt will formally present the scheme to industry next Thursday. ®

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