Broadband expansion strategy
Positive supply situation in Heidelberg
In recent years and months, broadband expansion has been pushed forward by the expansion of various telecommunication providers, as well as the Stadtwerke Heidelberg and the Gesellschaft für Grund- und Hausbesitz Heidelberg (GGH). Currently, approximately 88 percent of all households in Heidelberg are connected with a transmission rate of at least 50 megabits per second (Mbps). At this speed, a song is downloaded in about a second, a two-hour film in about three to four minutes. For comparison: in Baden-Württemberg, only about 71 percent of households have a fast internet connection.
Strategy for future broadband expansion: fast data transmission for underserved areas
Nevertheless, some urban areas are still underserved. Over the next three years, no expansion by telecommunication companies to at least 30 Mbps is to be expected, as companies simply do not deem it profitable. The basic strategy of Heidelberg is, therefore, straightforward: the connection of undersupplied residential and commercial areas to faster internet. On February 16, 2017, the City Council unanimously approved the submission of a funding application to the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure for broadband expansion in Heidelberg. The aim of the federal funding program is to create broadband networks that ensure a nationwide coverage of bandwidths of at least 50 Mbps. The Ministry wants to invest a total of four billion euros in fast data transmission. The city of Heidelberg had already received funding of 50.000 EUR for the commissioning and implementation of a feasibility study. The results which, in the meantime, were made available, form the basis for the submission of the federal funding application.
Installation in new construction areas
In new construction zones, such as the conversion areas, the Stadtwerke Heidelberg, in the course of their development contracts for electricity, water, heat and cooling, are laying down hollow pipes with unlit optical fiber cables - so-called dark fiber cables - to the building (FTTB - fiber-to-the-building). Private telecommunications companies can now use these cables and activate them with light signals. Businesses or households in need of high bandwidth have the possibility to install optical fibre cables (FTTH - fiber-to-the-home) in the building; which is especially convenient with new constructions. The city's housing association GGH (Gesellschaft für Grund- und Hausbesitz Heidelberg) also installs high-speed internet via FTTB as part of its new construction measures. They not only offer the cables but a wide range of services from Internet, telephony to TV at fair market conditions.
Project-related fiber optic expansion in areas with existing internet access
In areas adequately supplied with fast internet, a project-related fiber optic network is being installed. As civil engineering work and restoration of surface layers incur up to 80 per cent of the broadband construction costs, it is necessary to use synergies in infrastructure expansion and network construction measures. When hollow pipes, for example, are laid down by transportation, maintenance or sewage water projects, these pipes can be used for optical fiber expansion as well.
This expansion is customer-driven, as queries and expressions of interest form the basis thereof. However, the Stadtwerke Heidelberg - in cooperation with telecommunication companies - will be responsible for the project.
The city of Heidelberg - with the support of federal and state subsidies - will encourage this process. Though the broadband expansion in areas with adequate access to the internet will progress step by step - a prioritization still has to be defined.
Telecommunication companies active in Heidelberg:
- 1&1 Internet AG
- E-Plus Mobilfunk GmbH & Co.KG
- Heidelberg-IT Management GmbH & Co KG
- Kabel Deutschland Vertrieb und Service GmbH & Co.KG
- Kurpfalztel GmbH
- mediasupply GmbH
- symbox Gesellschaft für Medienversorgung mbH
- Telefónica Germany: Alice and O2
- Telekom AG
- Unitymedia NRW GmbH
- Versatel AG
- Vodafone GmbH
- WTC Wohnen- und Tele Communication GmbH & Co.KG
The list does not claim to be complete. If you have any questions, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Underserved areas in Heidelberg
- Areas in Schlierbach, Ziegelhausen and Neuenheim (Ludolf-Krehl-Straße),
- Living areas in Königstuhl, Kohlhof, Kurpfalzhöfe, Neurott und Grenzhof,
- The industrial areas Fabrikstraße, Handschuhsheim-Nord, Hardtstraße, Im Bosseldorn, Pfaffengrund, Rohrbach-Süd, Weststadt, Wieblingen-Süd, Wieblingen-West,
- The conversion area of Patrick-Henry-Village.
How the feasibility study was conducted
- The first step was to determine and compile relevant structural features and databases. From 15 August 2016, telecommunications companies were asked to provide information on the existing infrastructure and expansion plans. This market survey procedure was conducted over a period of 4 weeks. The data from the Infrastructural Atlas of the Federation were also analyzed.
- Thereafter, 4,000 companies registered in Heidelberg were asked to participate in an online assessment of demand. In this survey, 314 companies participated and thus had the opportunity to promote the connection of their businesses with high-speed internet. The online survey took place anonymously and focused on individual business areas.
- Subsequent to these studies, underserved areas - so-called white spots on the broadband map - could be identified. Thus, telecommunication companies and Heidelberg businesses provided valuable insights for broadband expansion planning. In a further step, the network planning with cost analysis for different variants then formed the basis for the profitability analysis.
- As a result, suggestions and preferences for broadband infrastructure expansion are now available. TÜV Rheinland's recommendation also extends to the choice of the funding model (operator model or profitability shortfall model) - with TÜV Rheinland favouring the operator model. In the last step - after choosing the funding model - detailed plans were drawn up, which form the basis for the funding application for the broadband expansion at the federal and Länder level.