1,1 billion euros for better mobile coverage in Germany

1,1 billion euros for better mobile coverage in Germany

1,1 billion euros for better mobile coverage in Germany

Concerned about Germany’s status as a “Funklochrepublik” (dead zone republic), the federal government has recently announced major plans to improve its notoriously patchy mobile coverage - and quickly. 

1,1 billion euros for 5.000 new cell towers in Germany

It’s no secret that Germany has a bit of a problem when it comes to mobile signal. Indeed, the scale of the problem was broadcast live across the nation earlier this week. On Monday afternoon, public broadcaster ARD’s live coverage of the cabinet meeting in Berlin broke off when its signal failed. 

Shortly before this embarrassing occurrence, the federal cabinet had just determined upon a new strategy to improve mobile coverage in Germany. As part of a major new offensive to banish signal black holes from the map, the government will free up 1,1 billion euros to build an additional 5.000 new cell towers by 2024. 

Federal Minister for Transport and Digital Infrastructure, Andreas Scheuer, has promised that by this time 97,5 percent of the country’s total surface area will be covered by mobile networks, providing reliably fast mobile internet to 99,95 percent of households in Germany. At present, only around 93,94 percent of mobile phones are covered.  

Bureaucracy slows down expansion of mobile infrastructure

Speaking on Monday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said that “there’s no lack of money for investment at the moment … The problem is much, much more that it takes a very long time to plan” new masts. 

To this end, the federal government will also seek to simplify and streamline planning rules for new cell masts. Scheuer has already called for quicker approval processes for the construction of infrastructure, pointing to the fact that approximately 1.000 potential tower sites are currently stuck in limbo while they wait for the necessary approvals and licences. 

From 2020, therefore, the government plans to set up a mobile infrastructure company that will oversee the expansion, and possibly also take responsibility for awarding contracts to third parties. 

Germany’s patchy mobile coverage - mapped

If you’re after a visual representation of the scale of the problem, you’re in luck. Since last year, the Federal Network Agency has been collecting data on mobile connectivity via an app - the Funkloch-App - which has so far transmitted almost 160 million measurement points to the Federal Network Agency. 

Now, all of this data has been compiled into a “dead zone map” (Funklochkarte) that allows people to see how their mobile phone signal measures up in a countrywide comparison.

The map shows that, even with superfast 5G on the horizon, there’s still a long, long way to go before 4G fully arrives. While coverage tends to be good in the larger German cities, it’s patchy or even non-existent in the countryside. Even in Germany’s capital city, Berlin, there are huge areas where only 3G or even 2G download speeds are available. Plenty of motorways and public transport routes are only covered by 2G signals. The situation in rural areas is even worse; many have no coverage at all. 



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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