Europe’s economic juggernaut Germany is struggling to roll out fast broadband to all its citizens, a new report claims.
The country, celebrated for its engineering and efficiency, has managed to get 30 megabytes-per-second internet to just 54% of rural households, latest data shows.
It’s gotten so bad for one community in south-west Germany that locals have begun this year to connect to the internet themselves.
Villagers in Harpolingen, near the Swiss border, have been digging trenches and laying the necessary infrastructure since mid-March.
But Germany is not the only EU country to be struggling, according to a report published today by the European Court of Auditors (ECA).
Fifteen other states have worse coverage in rural areas, including France, Italy, Finland, Spain and Sweden.
The analysis suggests some countries will not meet a 2020 target to supply all citizens with 30 mbps broadband.
When asked whether poor broadband in isolated areas was contributing to a rural brain drain to cities, Mark Rogerson, a spokesman for ECA, said: “We didn’t audit that but there is anecdotal evidence to that effect.
“What we can say is that in areas that we have looked at where there is not fast broadband it’s very much more difficult for people to set up businesses and increase the amount of economic activity that is taking place.
“Of course one of the problems in rural areas is depopulation, people are leaving rural areas. They don’t want to go into agriculture and there is nothing else to do. There’s a drift away from these areas into the big cities.
“If you’ve got very fast internet in these areas then it’s much easier to start a business; if you haven’t got very fast internet it’s much harder.
“We would say this is a very important concern for Europe as a whole. If Europe is going to remain competitive in the global economy then good levels of speed and the sort of access that is provided by broadband are absolutely essential.”