According to a study by the Ifo Institute, the mobile network in Germany is better than its reputation. In the past ten years over 33,000 new cell phone masts have been built, so that now over 70,000 locations can be used for radio systems, it is said in an essay in the Ifo Schnelldienst. As a result, many gaps in the German cellular network have been closed.
The better infrastructure also has an impact on usage: In the period under study from 2010 to 2020, the number of mobile phone contracts per 100 inhabitants rose only slightly from 109 to 128. On the other hand, the number of mobile data contracts rose sharply from 28 to 91 per 100 inhabitants. Conversely, this also means that at least nine percent of the population do not use mobile data on a smartphone or other devices. Since some people have more than one mobile phone contract with data usage, the proportion of non-users is probably in the double-digit range.
A third of the new masts were erected in rural areas, where around a quarter of the population live. Overall, a good nationwide coverage of cell phone services has been established, even if there are still dead spots. The study also shows that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find locations for new masts. While around 13,500 new locations were opened in 2013, the number fell significantly afterwards.
The development of new locations will become even more important in the future. “Because it is not only important for closing remaining white and gray spots, but also for the supply with the 5G standard, for which a significant consolidation of the mobile network will be necessary,” says the Ifo paper.
However, many property owners are not ready to provide space. Lengthy approval procedures are also problematic. Possible solutions could be the early involvement of the local population in the search for a location as well as extensive digitization and simplification of the approval process. Incidentally, the Federal Network Agency stops on its website an interactive map for network coverage ready, which also offers search and filter functions. (dpa / pma)