A community rolls up its sleeves
The Main-Kinzig district, like similar communities all over Germany, had found itself left behind by the roll-out of modern broadband technology and the consequences were starting to bite: the lack of fast internet access was identified as a factor behind the increasing number of families moving to nearby urban areas and concerns among local businesses that they might have to relocate in order to remain competitive. The situation could not be allowed to continue. The plan was deceptively simple: create, as quickly as possible, a comprehensive fibre optic network that would enable speeds of at least 25 and up to 50 megabits per second and would cover the more remote areas of the district as well as its 29 towns and municipalities.
Thanks in part to the strong backing it received from all stakeholders – residents, politicians and businesses alike – across the district, this ambitious major project was completed extremely rapidly. It proved impossible at first to find any operator in Europe prepared to deliver a comprehensive upgrade in the Main-Kinzig district, so in 2012 the district authority grasped the nettle itself and established a wholly owned subsidiary, Breitband Main-Kinzig GmbH, for the purpose. The idea was to construct a fibre optic network that would be owned by the district but fully let to an operator. The concept gained traction and a contract partner in the form of Bavarian telecommunications company M-net was soon on board. The required funding came from WIBank, which awarded a broadband loan to the project. The initial pilot projects were already close to completion by the time the loan contract was signed at the end of 2012 – and less than three years later the main objective had been achieved.
The project involved the laying of some 600 kilometres of fibre optic cable and yet the entire modernisation has been completed without any substantial costs for the municipal authorities and taxpayers. M-net pays Breitband Main-Kinzig GmbH a monthly network rental charge for each customer connected, income that the district uses to repay the loan to WIBank. WIBank's broadband development programme has proved a success story more generally too and other district authorities have also now received similar loans.