Next German government ‘may sell Deutsche Telekom to build nationwide fibre’

Next German government ‘may sell Deutsche Telekom to build nationwide fibre’

The minority party that may decide the next German government wants to sell the state’s holding in Deutsche Telekom to pay for a nationwide open-access fibre network.

If the Free Democrat Party (FDP) forms a coalition with the biggest party after the elections on 24 September it will want the new government to sell its 31.8% stake in Deutsche Telekom and 21% of Deutsche Post, with the money spent on a nationwide fibre network.

“Instead of relying on outdated technology such as copper cables and vectoring, we will build a high-performance internet and mobile network in the gigabit range,” said party leader Christian Lindner in the manifesto (PDF). 

No party is likely to win an absolute majority in the election, which uses proportional representation to choose members of the Berlin parliament, the Bundestag. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU is in the lead in opinion polls, with the centre-left SPD in second place. A number of smaller parties, including the FDP, Greens and Left, will be vying to be included in a coalition to create a government.

“All internet providers should be able to rent transmission capacity,” said Lindner. “This will result in competition and enable infrastructure investments to be funded in the long term in order to maintain our living standards in the future as well.”

The manifesto added: “Glass fibre beats copper cable. We’ll launch the expansion of the fibre optic network by selling post office and telecom shares.”

According to Bloomberg, some of Merkel’s colleagues are supporting the FDP idea. Carsten Linnemann, who heads the CDU party’s small and mid-size business group, told the agency he’s “working on” making the idea resonate inside his party.

Selling Deutsche Telekom shares “would be the right thing to do, but any sale has to be conditioned on funds to expand fibre-optic networks,” Linnemann said in an interview. “We need more fibre-optic networks.”

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