Bundestag committee for a right to fast internet

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The Bundestag wants to bring about a right to fast internet. City dwellers are unlikely to be affected by this – even what is “fast” still has to be clarified.

Berlin (dpa) – All German citizens should have the right to fast internet in the future. The Bundestag Economic Committee voted on Wednesday for a corresponding bill.

How exactly the lower limit for download, upload and latency – i.e. the response time – looks like is still unclear. This should be calculated later and apply from mid-2022. According to industry estimates, the minimum level is likely to be low, for example only barely in the double-digit megabit range for downloads.

The minimum values ​​should primarily benefit people in rural areas. It shouldn’t play a major role in cities – in some places it could be relevant on the outskirts. The minimum values ​​are expected to rise year after year. This is to prevent the digital divide between urban and rural areas from widening further.

At the moment, German citizens only have the right to “functional” Internet access – even a 56 kilobit snail’s pace is enough to meet such a requirement. As a result of the new requirement, the minimum level will rise significantly, and the telecommunications industry will be made more responsible. From the point of view of critics, however, the reform is by no means sufficient to decisively advance the digitization of rural regions.

The project, which is part of an extensive amendment to the Telecommunications Act, is to come to the plenary session of the Bundestag on Thursday. Approval of the guidelines agreed upon by the grand coalition is considered certain. Then it would be the Federal Council’s turn.

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Should the right to fast internet become law, citizens could go to the Federal Network Agency from June 2022 and complain about the snail-pace internet in their own apartment. The Bonn authority would check this and, if necessary, commission a provider with the laying of lines. The costs for this would be paid from a financial pot that has to be filled by telecommunications companies.

Providers such as Whatsapp, whose services are in competition with voice telephony, could also be used to contribute to the costs – the Federal Network Agency is yet to decide this. Providers such as Netflix, on the other hand, should remain outside the current state – corresponding requirements from the telecommunications industry could not be met for reasons of European law, according to the ranks of the coalition.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210421-99-290995 / 2

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