Why is the Internet so slow in Germany?

Germany is known for its strong engineering and technology sectors. However, when it comes to internet speeds, the country lags behind many other developed nations. Slow internet connections have become a major complaint among both residential and business internet users in Germany.

What are the average internet speeds in Germany?

According to a report by Cable.co.uk, Germany ranks 33rd globally for average internet speeds. The average download speed in Germany is about 35.76 Mbps, while the average upload speed is just 8.73 Mbps. By comparison, the global average download speed is 75.73 Mbps.

When compared to other EU countries, Germany’s internet speeds also seem relatively slow. For example, average download speeds in Spain are over 117 Mbps, while Romania enjoys average speeds of 238 Mbps. Even among its direct neighbors, Germany lags behind – average speeds in France sit around 96 Mbps.

Why is internet access in Germany so much slower?

There are a few key factors that help explain the comparatively slow internet speeds in Germany:

  • Lack of fiber optic infrastructure – Fiber optic cables provide the fastest internet connections. However, only around 4% of households in Germany currently have direct fiber optic access. The vast majority still rely on slower copper cables.
  • Slow broadband rollout – The rollout of high-speed broadband across Germany has been relatively slow, especially compared to other European countries. Experts cite bureaucracy and restrictive regulations as hampering broadband infrastructure growth.
  • Less competition – The market is dominated by a few major players like Deutsche Telekom, which holds around 45% market share. Lack of strong competition reduces the incentive to increase speeds.
  • Remote regions lag behind – There is a significant speed gap between urban and rural regions. While cities may enjoy speeds up to 250Mbps, rural areas can lag far behind with speeds under 16Mbps.
  • Consumer price sensitivity – Internet packages are quite inexpensive compared to other EU countries. Low consumer willingness to pay higher prices likely restricts infrastructure investments.

How do German internet speeds compare within Europe?

When comparing Germany to the rest of Europe, its average internet speeds are quite mediocre. See the table below for a comparison of internet speeds (in Mbps) across Europe:

Country Average Download Speed Average Upload Speed
Romania 238.10 242.80
Sweden 187.12 108.19
Spain 117.21 112.22
France 96.51 93.87
Netherlands 82.82 60.28
Germany 35.76 8.73

As the data shows, Germany lags well behind the European leaders like Romania, Sweden, and Spain when it comes to internet speeds. It even trails the average speeds in neighboring countries like France and Netherlands by a wide margin.

How do German internet speeds rank globally?

Compared to global internet speeds, Germany does not fare much better. See the table below for a comparison of average internet speeds (in Mbps) across some of the top countries worldwide:

Country Average Download Speed Average Upload Speed
Taiwan 177.63 181.70
Singapore 174.29 203.54
China 95.29 94.31
United States 118.86 52.27
Germany 35.76 8.73

Among major world economies, Germany has some of the slowest average connection speeds. Developed countries like the US, Singapore, and Taiwan have internet speeds that are multiple times faster than Germany.

How do experts explain Germany’s slow internet speeds?

Technology experts have proposed a number of explanations for why German internet speeds lag so much despite the country’s strong engineering reputation:

  • Lack of competition – The broadband market is dominated by a handful of large providers, which reduces incentive to improve speeds.
  • Regulatory burdens – Building new networks faces bureaucracy, red tape, and restrictions from federal and local regulations.
  • Urban-rural divide – Private firms have focused investments on urban areas, leaving rural regions underserviced.
  • Legacy infrastructure – Much of the existing copper cables and other infrastructure limits available speeds.
  • Consumer attitudes – Germans have been unwilling to pay higher prices for faster speeds.
  • Fragmented planning – Coordination for major infrastructure upgrades has been inefficient.

While there is no single reason, together these factors have constrained Germany’s internet speeds relative to other advanced economies. Nonetheless, the German government recognizes the problem and has launched initiatives to promote faster internet.

What efforts are being made to improve Germany’s internet speeds?

Recognizing the country’s lagging internet networks, the German government has made broadband development a priority in recent years. Some initiatives to accelerate internet speeds include:

  • National broadband strategy – The government has set goals for nationwide 50Mbps coverage by 2025, with the vast majority of households to have gigabit speeds.
  • Rural development – Billions invested in subsidies to support broadband buildout by private firms in rural areas.
  • Infrastructure upgrades – Existing networks are being upgraded through new DOCSIS 3.1 cable broadband technology.
  • Removing regulations – Reforms have been passed to make it easier for firms to build local networks.
  • Spectrum auctions – Auctioning off 5G spectrum to telecoms to support next-generation mobile networks.
  • Fiber optic rollout – Major ongoing public and private investment to expand direct fiber optic connections.

These initiatives have started yielding some results, with average speeds increasing over the last few years. However, experts say Germany is still likely years away from catching up with the global leaders in internet speeds.

What impact does slow internet have on German businesses?

Germany’s generally slow internet speeds have had notable economic impacts and made it harder for businesses to thrive in the digital economy. Some of the major impacts include:

  • Competitiveness – Lagging behind in internet infrastructure makes German firms less competitive globally.
  • Cloud computing – Slow speeds constrain capacity to adopt cloud-based IT services.
  • Remote work – Employees’ ability to work flexibly and remotely is hampered.
  • New services – Businesses struggle to develop and provide innovative new digital services and products.
  • Startups – The environment for tech startups is weakened by poor internet capacities.
  • Automation – Factories’ and businesses’ ability to implement “Industry 4.0” automation is delayed.

Industry groups argue that upgrading Germany’s internet infrastructure is critical for boosting business productivity and competitiveness. They are lobbying the government to accelerate investments in broadband networks.

How satisfied are German consumers with internet speeds?

Despite recent improvements in some areas, German consumers remain very dissatisfied with the speed and reliability of their home internet connections.

In a 2020 poll by YouGov, just 17% of German internet users said they were “very satisfied” with their internet speed at home, while 24% reported being “very dissatisfied.” By comparison, 52% of UK internet users reported being highly satisfied.

When asked in 2019 by broadband testing firm Ookla about satisfaction with home internet performance, German consumers gave an average rating of just 3.6 out of 5. This compares to a 4.3 average rating in the Netherlands.

Customer frustration with German internet services is also evident in the surge in consumer complaints lodged in recent years. The Federal Network Agency received over 18,000 complaints about internet connections in 2020 – six times higher than five years ago.

What steps are being taken to improve rural internet access?

One major priority in upgrading Germany’s internet infrastructure is providing faster access in rural regions, which severely lag behind urban areas. Some initiatives to improve rural internet include:

  • Government subsidies – Federal and state investment programs to make rural broadband economically viable for providers. From 2015 to 2020, the government allocated over €6 billion for rural broadband subsidies.
  • Universal service obligations – Regulation requiring providers to guarantee minimum speeds, even in less profitable rural areas.
  • Expanding fiber – Building more fiber optic networks capable of gigabit speeds, including in lower density villages.
  • Upgrading cable – DOCSIS 3.1 upgrades to existing cable networks to offer faster rural speeds.
  • Wireless/satellite – Using wirelesstransmittersand satellite technology to get fast access to remote users.
  • Municipal networks – Local governments developing their own broadband infrastructure where private firms won’t.

These initiatives have helped shrink the rural-urban digital divide in Germany. However, rural users often still receive speeds far below Germany’s already-low national average.

What are the fastest internet speed options available?

For German consumers and businesses seeking the absolute fastest internet speeds available, there are a few leading options:

  • Fiber optic – Direct fiber optic connections can deliver speeds up to 1 Gbps.
  • Cable – Upgraded DOCSIS 3.1 cable can provide speeds up to 500 Mbps.
  • VDSL – VDSL copper lines with vectoring and bonding can reach 100 Mbps.
  • 5G mobile – The emerging 5G cellular networks offer theoretical peak speeds up to 10 Gbps.
  • Fixed wireless – Some providers use wireless transmitters to provide rural homes with fast speeds.

However, even these fastest options have limitations in Germany. Fiber optic is still rare, only available to around 4% of the population. Upgrading cable or copper lines is costly and spotty. And 5G coverage remains very limited as networks continue to be built out over the next few years.

What do experts forecast for Germany’s internet speeds in the future?

Looking ahead, technology analysts expect Germany’s average internet speeds to improve gradually but remain below the world’s leaders over the next 5-10 years.

The government aims to provide nationwide gigabit coverage by 2030. However, experts are skeptical this timeline can be achieved due to ongoing regulatory and economic constraints.

More realistically, experts project:

  • Average speeds will reach 50-100 Mbps over the next 5 years.
  • Fiber, 5G, and DOCSIS 3.1 will continue expanding but slowly.
  • The rural-urban gap will persist but shrink somewhat.
  • Prices may rise somewhat as providers pass on infrastructure costs.
  • Germany will remain a second-tier country globally in terms of internet speeds.

Major takeaways are that while Germany’s networks will get faster, they are unlikely to catch up to world leaders in the near future. German consumers and businesses will need to continue coping with mediocre speeds compared to international standards.


In summary, Germany has relatively slow average internet speeds compared to many other developed countries. The average download speed of 35 Mbps places Germany 33rd globally. Several factors contribute including lack of fiber networks, slow broadband rollout, less competition, and cost sensitivities.

The German government recognizes the problem and has launched initiatives to accelerate investment in faster broadband. However, the country still lags behind and ranks among the second-tier internationally in terms of internet speeds. For German businesses, poor internet connectivity hampers competitiveness and adoption of new technologies. Consumers are also highly unsatisfied with the speed and reliability of their home internet service.

While experts expect Germany’s internet infrastructure to slowly improve in coming years, the country is likely to remain behind world leaders in speeds. German consumers and businesses will need to continue contending with the impacts of slower connectivity compared to international standards.

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