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“Comprehensive problem”: sloppiness in fiber optic expansion |

The fiber optic expansion for high-speed Internet is causing trouble across Hesse. Residents complain about construction defects such as broken sidewalks that become tripping hazards. Internet providers, construction companies and municipalities hold each other responsible.

Jörn Perske

Audio contribution


03:37 mins

How far Hesse has come with fiber optic expansion and where there is damage

Photo of a man in a white shirt, jacket and glasses looking at the camera.  A street is blurred in the background.

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When Mayor Matthias Kübel drives through Bad Salzschlirf in the Fulda district, he quickly becomes annoyed. “There, for example,” says the CDU politician, stops the car, gets out and shows what makes him so mad: dozens of damage to sidewalks, paths and streets. According to Kübel, everything is a result of the fiber optic expansion.

In the 3,000-inhabitant community in the Fulda district – as well as in many other communities in Hesse – shafts have been being dug in the ground for some time. Cables are laid there for faster internet. Kübel complains that it is not uncommon for breakdowns to occur when these shafts are closed.

According to the mayor, there is almost no expansion section in Bad Salzschlirf without complaints. “In around 40 places we see deficiencies that cannot be ignored.”

“Blowed construction and hair-raising sloppiness”

For example, pipes, lines and cables were damaged during civil engineering. After the shafts were closed, passers-by were exposed to tripping hazards due to bumps and even small ditches in the underground. Kübel speaks of holes, waves and towering and broken stones. There are warning beacons and construction site fences in many places.

Close-up of a sidewalk.  In the middle there is a large hole that is inadequately surrounded by a red and white barrier.  In the background, small people enter the adjacent house with walking frames.

What also upsets the town hall boss: In addition to the functional defects, there are visual ones. Differences in materials, coverings and colors of stones no longer harmonize. “A patchwork quilt in the pavement – ​​it looks worse than before,” complains Kübel. He calls it “botched construction and hair-raising sloppiness.” Residents with whom the hr spoke, but who did not want to be quoted in the text, made similar comments.

Audio contribution


02:48 mins

Technology for fast internet: What is fiber optic?

A cable package with the fiber optic cable strands that are laid in the houses and apartments is on the table for information.

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“People are no longer happy about the technical progress with fiber optics for faster and more stable internet,” observes Kübel. Instead, disillusionment is spreading – and the thought that a lot is being ruined by the companies. “And when repairs are carried out by companies, it usually takes months. If we do it ourselves, we have to chase the money.”

Association speaks of a “comprehensive problem”

There are also problems with fiber optic expansion in other places. In Burghaun (Fulda), Mayor Dieter Hornung (CDU) spoke in one Newspaper report with a view to individual parts of the community of a “catastrophe”. A temporary construction stop was imposed in Bad Hersfeld because the city was so dissatisfied.

These are not isolated cases, as the Hessian Association of Cities and Municipalities (HSGB) confirms. The municipal umbrella association speaks of a “widespread problem”. Municipalities contacted us with complaints almost every week. In the past few months there have been around 20 municipalities.

Further information

Availability of broadband internet

On the cards in Broadband Atlas You can find out where in Germany which technologies, connection types and speeds (megabits per second) are available. One shows how the digital infrastructure is set up in Hesse Dashboard.

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The number of problem cases is probably much higher. Since the mayors often exchange ideas with their counterparts in other places to find solutions, the HSGB doesn’t get to hear everything.

Municipalities are not allowed to choose construction companies

However, the mayors could not influence which companies take action. According to the HSGB, the Telecommunications Act gives the expanding companies great freedom of action. The municipalities would have to let the companies have their way.

According to the association, they often hire subcontractors who offer cheap prices for the work. Sometimes there are several companies operating that engage in questionable competition with each other.

Photo of a sidewalk.  In the middle there is a large hole from which many thick cables protrude in a large arc.

Both Deutsche Telekom and the provider TNG from Kiel are active in Bad Salzschlirf. “They then tear up the ground one after the other. That puts additional strain on the infrastructure,” says Mayor Kübel. There are no agreements. “And if something went wrong, it was the competitor’s fault.”

Telekom: Take damage seriously

A spokeswoman explained on behalf of Telekom: They take the cases of damage very seriously and analyze the reasons for them. They are trying to optimize work processes. The responsibility for the technically correct execution lies with the civil engineering companies commissioned. If damage is reported, they are requested to repair the defects immediately.

Further information

Companies involved in fiber optic expansion

In Hesse, various companies are involved in the fiber optic expansion, including Telekom and TNG, according to the Hessian Association of Cities and Municipalities, and in particular the companies Goetel GmbH, Unser Grüne Glasfaser, YplaY Germany GmbH, Deutsche Glasfaser and Deutsche GigaNetz GmbH. Over 400 companies are organized in the Federal Association of Broadband Communications (BREKO).

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Contrary to criticism from the HSGB, construction companies are selected “carefully and conscientiously,” explained the spokeswoman. But the companies often find surfaces that are already damaged, such as paving stones and asphalt.

These are typical difficulties in expansion that can also be observed in Bad Salzschlirf. However, the spokeswoman assured: “Since all existing routes in the expansion area are subject to final acceptance, the last defects will be eliminated by then.”

Mutual accusations between the companies

In response to a request from hr, Telekom and TNG accused each other of saying that the presence of their respective competitors was disruptive and was detrimental to the quality of the expansion.

A TNG spokesman defended himself against the accusation of construction defects: “It is true that we find infrastructure that is sometimes in very poor condition and was actually either left behind by other providers or is generally older.”

“It’s difficult to expand without noise”

The defective surfaces would be documented and reported to the municipality. The spokesman said: “The condition after our work is basically better than before.”

The contracted construction companies would be intensively monitored. If there is any damage, it will be repaired. If necessary, the staff or the company itself will be replaced. In winter there can be longer waiting times due to weather and construction. Due to the large number of players, it is generally “difficult to achieve a silent expansion”.

The Digital Ministry in Wiesbaden said about the breakdowns in the fiber optic expansion: “Basically, road damage caused by the fiber optic expansion is a nuisance.” After the relocation, the telecommunications company has to repair the traffic routes again. This is clearly regulated by law.

Further information

How far is Hesse with fiber optic expansion?

Hesse is not exactly moving at the speed of light when it comes to fiber optic expansion. This was already evident in one Interim balance sheet. According to current information from the Digital Ministry in Wiesbaden, around 21 percent of all households in Hesse have a fiber optic connection (FTTB/H). Almost 71 percent of households are gigabit-capable with a data transfer of 1,000 Mbit/s regardless of the technology.

This puts Hesse in fifth place among the regional states. Almost two thirds of the commercial areas have a gigabit-capable connection; among the regional states, Hesse comes in second place in this point, as the Digital Ministry explained.

The ministry justifies the increasing pace of expansion with the forests, mountains and valleys. “This topography leads to challenges when laying fiber optic cables. In other regions of Germany, laying is easier,” said Digital Minister Kristina Sinemus (CDU). The goal is to build a comprehensive fiber optic network by 2030.

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Further information

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