The path for large-scale broadband expansion and ensuring speeds of 50 Mbit/s in Saarland is now free. The “NGA-Netzausbau Saar” project, which is sponsored by the local administration union, eGo-Saar, emerged successful in the nationwide funding competition. Of the 13 million euros in projects costs, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure will grant a subsidy of up to 7.8 million euros (60% of the total funding). This was announced by the Federal Minister of Transport, Alexander Dobrindt, and Prime Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer at the end of last week in Berlin.
This makes Saarland one of the first regions in Germany to receive aid for expansion of NGA infrastructures from the BMVI funding program. At the same time, Saarland is the first state that has set out to expand 50 Mbit/s broadband coverage to cover all areas with help from the federal government. The State Chancellery will increase the funding of the BMVI from its own funding by an extra 30% of the subsidy requirements (approx. 3.9 million euros). The remaining 10% (approx. 1.3 million euros) will further be borne by the municipal.
In the entire country, there is no comparable project where broadband expansion has been set for an entire state. It is against this background that the Berlin City Council’s approval for Prime Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer means more than just an assurance of funding for the project. “Our project is an example of good inter-municipal cooperation. It allowed for a joint funding application for all poorly covered areas in such a short time, which was made possible by the exemplary and trustful cooperation of all municipalities, eGo-Saar, and the state government. We were therefore able to display a special ‘strength’ of our country,” explains Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.
With the funding from Berlin, financing of the state-wide NGA network expansion is now on a solid footing. eGo-Saar can now start implementing the project. The CEO of the local administration union, mayor Werner Laub, is confident of swift project progress in the future: “The positive decision of the federal government shows that our strategic approach is right. I am sure that we will be able to push our expansion project forward quickly, and we are already expecting significant improvement in broadband supply across the entire state in the next year.”
In addition to a swift NGA broadband expansion, the establishment of the joint administrative network, “Saarland Netz 2017”, is prerequisite for further advancing of digitization in Saarland and maximum possible exploitation of the opportunities that it brings along. This administrative network should further facilitate cooperation within the municipalities as well as between the state and the municipalities.
Looking at the broadband expansion in comparison to the rest of the country, Saarland has a good starting position since approx. 71% of the households in Saarland already have NGA (next generation access) bandwidths of at least 50 Mbit/s. Prime Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and the municipalities in Saarland are particularly concerned with closing the remaining coverage gaps in the foreseeable future. “We want to ensure that all people and companies in Saarland are connected to the data highway. The expansion of NGA networks is a major contributory factor in creating equal living conditions and economic development opportunities across the state,” emphasizes the Prime Minister backed by mayor Werner Laub, CEO of the local administrative union (eGo-Saar) at the press conference today in Saarbrücken.
In areas that are not connected to the NGA network (next generation access) by private telecommunications service providers due to economic reasons, expansion can be realized through grants from the government. The analysis of the broadband situation in Saarland estimates a financial requirement of around 13 million euros for the entire state. The launch of the NGA funding program of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (German abbreviation: BMVI) in November 2015 opened up a concrete perspective for financing of statewide expansion in Saarland.
In December 2015, the course was set for a state-wide expansion project that was supported by many. Following the initiative of the Prime Minister, the state government, local administrative union eGo-Saar, and the municipalities in Saarland agreed on a joint expansion project under the sponsorship of eGo-Saar, which is based in the municipality and financed by the State Chancellery thanks to the municipal broadband advisory and coordination office. It has a high level of competence in regard to subsidized broadband expansion. The project, which was named “NGA-Netzausbau Saar”, aims to expand the network coverage in all regions in Saarland in a single, centrally controlled measure without any market-driven perspectives. It targets bandwidths of at least 50 Mbit/s. In addition to a small share from the municipalities, the close to 13-million-euro project will largely be funded by federal and state funds. eGo-Saar, in cooperation with the State Chancellery, started preparing a substantiated funding application immediately after this tenure and submitted it to BMVI at end of January (i.e. after only two months and before the end of the first funding period).