Germany is considered a real developing country when it comes to network expansion. Many people feel this when they take the train every day. The Berlin subway is a particularly alarming example. While 5G has now established itself as the new mobile communications standard for the masses, the subway does not even offer LTE. The corresponding network expansion is now to be delayed even further.
There is no 4G underground
Back in 2010, the public was told with great glee that LTE, aka 4G, would be launched on a broad scale as a new mobile standard. Twelve years later, there are still many areas in the Federal Republic that do not offer LTE, let alone 5G. While network outages are simply part and parcel of highway travel, and residents of rather sparsely populated regions of Germany have become accustomed to a poor network, 5G is now commonplace in major cities. This is true at least if you stay above ground. In fact, even 12 years after the introduction of LTE, fast mobile Internet is not possible in the Berlin subway.
This is unlikely to change in the near future, if Telefónica Deutschland’s statements are to be believed. According to a company spokesperson, only a small part of the blame for this lies with the company itself. Rather, the obstacles to be overcome are primarily in the hands of the public sector. Not only are building permits being issued late. On top of that, the building fabric in many areas of the Berlin subway system is said to pose a major challenge. That provides for the temporal delays, which will probably amount to still years.
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LTE exclusively for customers of O²
For commuters and tourists in the German capital, meanwhile, it is a major annoyance when the mobile Internet suddenly goes on strike. The only exception is when they use O² as their network operator. This is because the Telefónica subsidiary has been offering LTE exclusively to its customers since 2016. The situation is different with the competition. Even well-known providers like Telekom and Vodafone can only offer their users Edge or GPRS. If you consider that people like to stream music or even series on their smartphones on public transport, this is clearly not enough.
To change this as quickly as possible, the company now wants to focus on expansion to ensure fast mobile Internet for all network operators as quickly as possible. Not only Telekom and Vodafone customers should be able to benefit from this. People in the O² network should also benefit. After all, they even want to offer 5G in the tradition-steeped subway. However, no results can be seen or even felt on the smartphone so far.
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BVG highlights complicated political situation
Since the year 1902, the subway railroads already roll through Berlin. So it is hardly surprising that it is proving complicated to accommodate modern technology in the partly dilapidated building fabric. However, this project has already been underway for several years and should have reached its goal by the summer of 2021. This makes the frustration all the more understandable after a year and a half of delays and no real progress. Through a spokesperson, Berlin’s public transport company (BVG) emphasized to colleagues at Golem.de that there have been other construction projects in the subway tunnels away from Telefónica’s project, which are due to a high level of renovation work. In combination to known problems such as the Corona crisis and the Ukraine war, on top of that, the company said it was struggling with supply chain problems and thus a lack of materials. A high level of sick leave on the part of the technicians is also a major problem. The reasoning is quite understandable and by no means far-fetched. Nevertheless, we hope that the expansion of fast mobile Internet will also be implemented in Berlin’s subway system as quickly as possible.