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Communications

German cabinet adopts 'Digital Agenda' for expanded broadband Internet

German government ministers have thrown their weight behind a medium-term agenda geared toward making broadband Internet available across the country. But it is little more than a declaration of intent.

Germany agrees on Digital Agenda

German cabinet ministers gave their approval Wednesday to a plan called "Digital Agenda 2014-2017," which aims to provide fast broadband Internet to rural and urban areas alike by 2018.

This could be achieved through a variety of technologies on the market, including copper cable-based DSL, glass fiber-based Internet connections or mobile-based LTE (Long Term Evolution), a standard for wireless communications.

Toward the end of 2013, there were 28.7 million broadband Internet connections across the country, accounting for some 70 percent of all households.

Particularly people in remote rural areas have not yet been able to enjoy the benefits of a connection that goes beyond the snail-pace speed of modem and ISDN technology.

Lagging behind

Compared with other nations in the 28-member European Union, Germany as the bloc's economic powerhouse comes in 13th in terms of Internet connectivity, while countries such as Malta, the Netherlands and Belgium already have basically all areas covered with broadband technology.

The Federation of German Industries (BDI) on Wednesday called the government's "Digital Agenda" a step in the right direction.

"But the agenda must not remain a mere declaration of intent," BDI Managing Director Markus Kerber said, adding that concrete measures must soon follow to make the plan a reality.

Experts said that one of the shortcomings of the agenda was the fact that it did not precisely define where a fast Internet connection began.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) already considers connections of more than 2 megabit per second as being broadband, but that is far too low to meet modern-day requirements by businesses and private households.

hg/cjc (Reuters, dpa)

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