Digitization is advancing: the mobile network in Germany is better than its reputation. In recent years, many dead spots have been plugged and reception has improved.
In the past 10 years, over 33,000 new cell phone masts have been built, so that over 70,000 locations can now be used for radio systems, according to the article in the Ifo Schnelldienst, which was published on Friday. As a result, many gaps in the German cellular network have been closed.
The better infrastructure also has an impact on usage: The number of mobile phone contracts per 100 inhabitants increased only slightly from 109 to 128 in the period under study from 2010 to 2020. On the other hand, the number of mobile data contracts tripled from 28 to 91 per 100 inhabitants.
At the same time, however, this also means that at least nine percent of the population do not use any mobile data on their smartphones 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. About a quarter of the population lives there. Not all radio gaps were closed, but according to the study, a good nationwide coverage of mobile services is guaranteed throughout Germany. This is especially true for cities and urban centers, but rural regions are now approaching this standard.
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.