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Bad cell phone reception Lost in a dead spot In many rural regions, cell phone reception is still patchy. According to the network agency, more than ten percent of the country’s area is affected. Expansion is often delayed – companies could now face sanctions.


Mast with different antennas from cell phone providers | dpa

Bad cell phone reception Lost in the dead zone

As of: June 8th, 2021 3:59 p.m.

Cell phone reception is still patchy in many rural areas. According to the network agency, more than ten percent of the country’s area is affected. Expansion is often delayed – companies could now face sanctions. The deeper you go into Germany’s rural regions, the worse the cell phone reception. This is the result of a current report by the Federal Network Agency. This is by no means a rare phenomenon. As the report shows, the supply is poor or non-existent on eleven percent of the country’s area. However, complete dead zones are really rare: Cell phone users, regardless of the provider, have no reception at all on just 0.3 percent of the area in Germany – they are “areas that are not provided with any technology”. This proportion is highest in Bavaria and Rhineland-Palatinate with 0.8 percent. In eight of the 16 federal states it is zero.

Annoying “gray spots”

However, 3.8 percent of the country’s area is referred to as so-called “white spots” in the report. In these areas, reception is only possible in the age-old 2G cellular standard. This standard is too slow for modern, complex mobile radio applications such as videos. 7.2 percent of the area are considered “gray spots”. Only one of the three German cellular networks, Telekom, Vodafone or Telefónica Deutschland, can be received there in the 4G standard. Anyone who is a customer of another network is left behind. Gray spots are astonishingly widespread: In Baden-Württemberg the proportion is ten percent, in Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate it is 9.9 percent. Bavaria is fourth from bottom with 9.2 percent.

Industry points to high costs

In the Internet age, stable cell phone reception across the board is considered crucial for the development of rural areas. The flow of data is also becoming increasingly important for farmers in the fields, forest workers and hikers. The data from the Federal Network Agency show how great the need for expansion is. The telecommunications industry points to the high costs incurred in rural expansion. The network operators are now cooperating with each other to fill the gaps. In addition, there is a new state “mobile radio infrastructure company” that wants to use funding to enable radio locations where economic operation is not worthwhile. In the future, it is also planned to map 5G coverage and the main points of disconnections in voice telephony in a suitable form.

Main traffic routes not fully supplied

The report by the Federal Network Agency also deals with the issue of network supply along the main transport routes. Since the beginning of 2020, there should be 4G reception everywhere on motorways and ICE routes. However, 100 percent coverage has not yet been achieved. In the case of the motorways, the degree of coverage is between 95.4 and 99 percent, depending on the company, and between 94.4 and 98.2 percent for the railways, writes the Federal Network Agency. After all, the supply along the main traffic routes has been improved.

Fines not excluded

The authority refers to a total of around 550 locations where the companies were unable to ensure the required network supply in good time. “The examination has shown that there are cases of actual and / or legal impossibility at around 20 planned locations. The majority of the cases are temporary delays,” it says. The Federal Network Agency is currently examining possible sanctions against the mobile network operators. It is crucial here whether the delays were caused by the mobile network operator – for example due to late planning of the location – or by third parties, for example due to long building permit procedures or late cancellations by landlords. If the network operator is responsible for the delay, there is a risk of fines.