Police suspect bank robbers after internet cut in 40,000 Berlin homes

More than 40,000 households in the southwest of the German capital lost internet and TV services after cable lines were damaged on Sunday. Police are investigating whether the outage is connected to a bank robbery attempt.

Police suspect bank robbers after internet cut in 40,000 Berlin homes
Photo: DPA

Early in the morning on Sunday, residents in the Berlin districts of Zehlendorf, Steglitz and Wilmersdorf found themselves without internet after a major cable was disconnected, according to multiple Berlin-based reports.

“In Wilmersdorf, a cable duct was opened and a fiber optic cable was intentionally severed,” a Vodafone spokesperson told the Berliner Morgenpost.

Reports state that the majority of the affected homes were Vodafone customers, though Telekom customers were affected too – meaning that they couldn’t watch TV, make phone calls on their landline or surf the internet if their telecommunications services were routed over the severed cable duct.

Much later in the day on Sunday – around 6:00 pm – internet services in the three affected Berlin districts had been restored by Vodafone.

A Telekom spokesperson said the company’s technicians were not able to fix the problem on Sunday, according to radio station RBB. “They are not something you can just patch up,” the spokesperson added. “You have to stitch them together from socket to socket.”

Berlin authorities are investigating whether the shutdown has anything to do with an attempted bank robbery in the area.

In a neighbourhood between the three Berlin districts, Schmargendorf, robbers possibly tried to immobilize the communications network in order to hinder an alarm system in an attempt to break into a nearby Sparkasse bank, reported Tagesspiegel.

The bank’s security system had gone off at about 3:00 in the morning, according to the police. By the time police arrived at the scene, they found visible signs of burglary and the perpetrators had fled.

The network failure occurred at about the same time.


EU greenlights €200M for Spain to bring super fast internet speeds to rural areas

Brussels has approved a plan which will bring high-speed broadband internet to the almost 1 in 10 people in Spain who live in underpopulated rural areas with poor connections, a way of also encouraging remote workers to move to dying villages. 

EU greenlights €200M for Spain to bring super fast internet speeds to rural areas
The medieval village of Banduxo in Asturias. Photo: Guillermo Alvarez/Pixabay

The European Commission has given Spain the green light to use €200 million of the funds allocated to the country through the Next Generation recovery plan to offer internet speeds of up to 300 Mbps (scalable to 1Gb per second) to rural areas with slow internet connections. 

According to Brussels, this measure will help guarantee download speeds of more than 100 Mbps for 100 percent of the Spanish population in 2025.

Around 8 percent of Spain’s population live in areas where speeds above 100Mbs are not available, mostly in the 6,800 countryside villages in Spain that have fewer than 5,000 inhabitants.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen plans to travel to Madrid on Wednesday June 16th to hand over to Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez the approved reform plan for Spain. 

Back in April, Spain outlined its Recovery and Resilience plan aimed at revitalising and modernising the Spanish economy following the coronavirus crisis, with €72 billion in EU grants over the next two years.

This includes green investments in energy transition and housing, boosting science and technology education and digital projects such as the fast-speed internet project which aims to avoid depopulation in rural areas. 

It’s worth noting that these plans set out €4.3 billion for broadband internet and 5G mobile network projects in rural areas in Spain, so this initial investment should be the first of many.

Over the past 50 years, Spain’s countryside has lost 28 percent of its population as Spaniards left to find jobs in the big cities. 

The gap has been widening ever since, local services and connections with the developed cities have worsened, and there are thousands of villages which have either been completely abandoned or are at risk of dying out. 


How Spaniards are helping to save the country’s 4,200 villages at risk of extinction

rural depopulation spain

The pandemic has seen a considerable number of city dwellers in Spain move or consider a move to the countryside to gain space, peace and quiet and enjoy a less stressful life, especially as the advent of remote working in Spain can allow for this. 

Addressing the issue of poor internet connections is one of the best incentives for digital workers to move to the countryside, bringing with them their families, more business and a new lease of life for Spain’s villages.


Nine things you should know before moving to rural Spain