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Mobile communications strategy and 5G network expansion

Why the 5G innovation programme is so important

Introducing the new 5G mobile telecommunications standard quickly and efficiently – that’s the aim of the Federal Government’s innovation programme. Thanks to support from this programme, it is possible for innovative 5G applications to be tested directly on the ground under real conditions.

The coalition agreement laid the groundwork

The transmission of high data rates as offered by 5G calls for radio frequency ranges above those used by the previous generations of mobile communications. In an auction that ran until 12 July 2019 the Federal Government sold off frequencies in the 2-gigahertz and 3.5-gigahertz range to a variety of mobile network operators. Following this, on the basis of the “5x5G” strategy endorsed in the coalition agreement, an innovation programme aimed at supporting 5G research projects was initiated. So far, around 66 million euros have been made available. 

Phase 1

Fast Internet, seamless communication, no black spots. To get off to a proper start, the new mobile telecommunications standard also needs a favourable wind. Such support comes in the form of the Federal Government’s two-step 5G innovation programme. During the first phase, six 5G research initiatives were chosen. Within the framework of these initiatives, research institutes and universities, with state support, have been pressing ahead with flagship projects in 5G research. The relevant institutes are in Hamburg, Aachen, Kaiserslautern, Lusatia, the Braunschweig-Wolfsburg region and the Amberg-Weiden area in northern Bavaria. 

The aim is to identify and develop the benefits of 5G. A further objective is to bring together technology providers and potential users at an early stage, thereby making the German mobile network ready for the mobile communications of the future and establishing the country as a trailblazer in this field. The six projects implemented will provide an initial glimpse into 5G’s potential for changing our lives on every level. 

Phase 2

For the second stage, the Federal Government announced a 5G innovation competition. Those entitled to take part included municipalities, rural districts, towns and cities along with public associations of regional authorities, preferably in cooperation with regional actors from the fields of research and commerce. All in all, 67 towns/cities, regions and administration unions were successful, receiving total funding of approximately 6.2 million euros. The projects cover a broad spectrum of applications, from mobility, medicine and agriculture right through to the manufacturing sector. The purpose of the concepts is to test and research 5G applications in the regions. A total of 138 concepts were submitted. All applicants were also eligible to apply for implementation funding. 

Following on directly from the conclusion of the concept phase at the end of August 2020 the next step sees the best concepts receive additional implementation funding of up to 4 million euros each. The projects are accompanied and monitored with a view to adapting the results for other potential 5G users – thereby creating strong and sustainable demand for 5G in Germany at an early stage. 

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