LTE instead of 3G in Rural Areas in Germany – And Musings About the Treasury, Network Coverage and Prices

And another LTE success story today: When recently traveling in rural areas in Germany I knew, but was still surprised, that LTE is available in many remote places. This is due to the rules of the 2010 spectrum auction that required mobile network operators to deploy LTE in the 800 MHz band in rural areas first before they could move on to bigger cities. And this has indeed been done as I noticed that LTE was available in many places where 3G was absent. That, for example, solves lack of cellular Internet coverage I have experienced in the past at many remote highway restaurants that were so far only covered by GSM networks. Quite a different experience this time around. Great!

This brings to mind a recent blog post over at Stephen Temple's site about the three goals that a government can achieve by assigning spectrum:

  • Money for the treasury
  • Improving network coverage
  • Lower prices for consumers

Obviously these goals are at odd with each other and it's in a government's hands to balance and steer the result, e.g. by doing an auction and by setting the right rules for the auctions and deployment afterward. In the case of Germany, the requirement to deploy in rural areas first has significantly benefited national network coverage. Prices for telephony and Internet access are not the lowest in Europe but, from my point of view, on an acceptable level. And as far as money for the treasury was concerned, they didn't go away empty handed either. To me that looks like a good balance.

2 thoughts on “LTE instead of 3G in Rural Areas in Germany – And Musings About the Treasury, Network Coverage and Prices”

  1. But of course, the rules for LTE coverage of the high speed internet “white spots” before city coverage was allowed had a slightly strange side effect – all it took was one operator to cover a “white spot”, and it was immediately checked off the list, and no one else needed to cover the same area.

    Certain magenta and red operators spent huge sums of money covering the rural areas in order to trigger the “city coverage allowed” condition, but once this coverage condition was triggered, blue and green were allowed to use their frequencies in the cities too. They got a great deal out of this, they spent minimal sums in a few proof of concept areas, and could save their cash for the areas that really mattered!

  2. Obviously you can not do all three points. If you compare with the Scandinavian countries e.g. Sweden where they decided not go the money part as they goverment have their finances in order you can get much better coverage and lower prices. Today they one of the operators claim to cover 99% of the population with 3G and 92% with LTE. From my perception not even pink or red are covering 92% with 3G in Germany…
    And prices.. you get LTE 40 MBit/s with 10 GB for slightly more then 10€…

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