New map shows Germany’s mobile ‘dead zones’

Since last year, Germans have been able to measure their mobile network connection through a broadband-measuring app created by Germany’s Federal Network Agency. Now, the first results of the mass experiment are in.

New map shows Germany's mobile 'dead zones'
This 'Bundesnetzagentur' map shows exactly where in Germany there are gaps in reception. Photo: DPA

Germany has long been notorious for its lack of mobile connection. The term Funklochrepublik (roughly “radio hole republic,” or mobile dead zone) snagged second place in the country’s annual Word of the Year competition.

READ ALSO: German word of the day: Die Funklochrepublik

Now, the Bundesnetzagentur (Federal Network Agency) has put together a Funklochkarte (radio hole map) so Germans everywhere can see how their connectivity measures up to the rest of the country. 

According to the agency, the software commonly known as the Funkloch-App has been downloaded nearly 200,000 times from the Apple and Android Play stores since its introduction.

In total, users have provided and transmitted almost 160 million measurement points as the basis for the Funklochkarte.

What were the findings?

While there tends to be good 4G (LTE) coverage in densely-populated German cities, it can be patchy or even non-existent in the countryside. Even in the capital city of Berlin, places only offering 3G (UMTS) or even 2G (GSM) speeds still exist.

Many 2G (GSM) coverage zones follow along motorways and public transport lines, while more rural areas simply have no coverage.

Hamburg, Germany’s second largest city, has notably less 4G (LTE) coverage than even Berlin. Inner-city Cologne, on the other hand, seems to have the best coverage of the three. 

READ ALSO: Germany's (dis)connectivity: Can the broadband internet gap be bridged?

The Funklochkarte, despite its massive data gathering, does have limitations. Although the app can tell the difference between 2G (GSM), 3G (UMTS), 4G (LTE) and 5G connections, it is limited by user’s networks and phone contracts.

For example, someone restricted to 3G through their contract can only “show” the app this connection, even if higher speeds are available in the area. 

The Bundesnetzagentur says it’s planning on taking data collected by users to improve coverage. In addition, the Agency provides programs for Windows, macOS and Linux computers to check the speeds of fixed home internet connections, although speeds can also be limited by providers. 

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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