Sluggish internet is damaging the German economy, study reveals

Sluggish internet is damaging the German economy, study reveals

A discrepancy between internet connection quality in eastern and western Germany is so significant that experts say it is negatively impacting the eastern German economy.

Low-quality internet is slowing the eastern German economy

A study by the German Economic Institute has found that only 40 percent of households in eastern Germany have a broadband internet connection, compared to 70 percent in western Germany. Because eastern Germany has a lower population density, those living in rural areas are forced to live with consistent low-quality internet infrastructure.

Over the past few years, the discrepancy in internet quality has not been significantly confronted. In 2018 every fourth household in western areas had high-quality internet access, compared to just 17 percent in eastern areas. By mid-2020, in the west, this figure increased to 57 percent but reached only 30 percent in former East Germany. 

According to the institute, coronavirus also revealed the extent of internet inequality in Germany and that a slow internet connection has significant negative consequences on the German economy. “Overall, only a minority of companies in Germany are able to use digital data efficiently - 30 percent in western Germany and only 25 percent in eastern Germany [...] [these] are important factors in closing the remaining productivity and income gap between western and eastern Germany,” researchers explained.

German internet coverage among worst in EU

This east-west disparity has also dragged Germany down the charts when it comes to internet quality in the EU, with the country’s access being ranked only as mediocre.

When it comes to fibre-optic internet, the federal republic is ranked second worst among its 27 European neighbours. According to the European Commission, only every fifth household in Germany is lucky enough to have a fibre-optic connection.

Angela Merkel’s coalition government did have a plan to make fibre-optic internet available all over Germany by 2025. While Olaf Scholz’s government adopted the policy, the current coalition has not set a deadline for when internet users in Germany can expect the shift.

Thumb image credit: Gabor Tinz /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan

Editor for Germany at IamExpat Media. Olivia first came to Germany in 2013 to work as an Au Pair. Since studying English Literature and German in Scotland, Freiburg and Berlin...

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