Mr. Pfisterer, you returned to Germany from Denmark last year. How does that feel to you technically?
Business correspondent in Dusseldorf.
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The Danes are very far ahead when it comes to digitization. This can be seen everywhere, in business, administration and in daily life. Whether authorities, insurance companies, doctors or companies, you can do every exchange more or less completely digitally. Cash is also largely superfluous. You can even pay for the flowers at the weekly market digitally. In Copenhagen, I only needed my mailbox at the front door for mail from Germany. Well, and here you run back to the offices and fill out paper forms.
How far is fiber optic internet in Denmark?
On average, fiber-optic coverage there is just under 80 percent, and even 90 percent in rural areas. In Germany, we are at just 25 percent of households.
Why is this progressing so slowly in Germany?
On the one hand, the market got off to a late start. Deutsche Telekom, as the market leader, hesitated for a long time and preferred to nurture copper lines. In fact, movement only came in 10 years ago, when we started. But the snail's pace also has a lot to do with our federal structures and a very complicated administration.
The German government wants fiber optics everywhere in Germany by 2030. Is that possible?
The goal is definitely ambitious. To achieve this, a shift in bureaucracy must go through Germany's offices. When we submit our applications, we sometimes have to work with up to 20 different authorities – from road construction authorities to nature conservation and monument protection. And everything still runs on paper. The introduction of digitized approval procedures is therefore urgently needed. What would also greatly accelerate the expansion are modern installation methods in which slots are milled or trenches are dug with the plough. This is four or five times faster than in traditional civil engineering and is much more cost-effective.
After all, the state has launched a new funding program. Will it help?
The new funding guideline from April is a missed opportunity. This is because the market is currently unable to skim off the additional funds against the backdrop of scarce construction capacities. The aim should be to use the subsidies in a targeted manner where they really make sense – for example, in areas that would otherwise remain unsupplied. The new funding guideline puts unnecessary and excessive pressure on self-economic expansion and makes expansion more expensive. In the future, this will also be a burden on taxpayers. In addition, the voting and application procedures are extremely time-consuming. I fear that the expansion will tend to slow down.
To what extent is Deutsche Glasfaser itself dependent on public money?
Our core focus is self-economic expansion. As a rule, we only invest in areas where at least one third of the households addressed book a contract with us in pre-marketing. Nevertheless, it is not possible everywhere without funding. So far, we have received around one billion in funding commitments for areas where the costs are particularly high and the expansion would not be feasible purely economically.