Bonn · 5G expansion in Bonn is progressing. Telekom and Co. are building new mobile phone masts or upgrading old ones. But what rules do the operators actually have to observe? We asked.
It all happened very quickly, reports a resident about the workers who turned up in Bonn's Karlstraße a few days ago. "It was a fait accompli. Suddenly there was a huge mast." Puzzled, and also annoyed because the mast in question was blocking the view across to the nearby Church of Saint Elisabeth, the man (who does not wish to be named) turned to the GA.
A few years ago, his application to raise the height of his flat had been turned down. Why, then, was it now okay for someone to install a new mobile phone mast on top of the office building only a few metres away?
As the Bonn-based Federal Network Agency informed the GA on request, the competences for planning, construction, expansion and operation of telecommunications networks are the responsibility of the network operators. For the Bonn area, these are Drillisch Netz AG, Telefónica Deutschland, Telekom Deutschland and Vodafone, the companies that had purchased the mobile frequencies in the 2019 frequency auction.
The companies are limited in their expansion by building regulations, which regulate the maximum height of antenna systems, minimum distance and static requirements.
According to the city of Bonn, no planning permission is required for masts on roofs up to a height of 15 metres. In outdoor areas, free-standing masts may be built up to 20 metres high. There are no rules about keeping the distance to neighbouring buildings, although a restriction results from a Bonn council resolution of 2006, which calls on the network operators to "give preference to alternative sites" if children's facilities are located within a radius of 100 metres. But this does not represent a binding ban for mobile phone providers.
Federal Network Agency in Bonn issues "antenna TÜV"
Accordingly, there should be no problems for the mobile phone provider Telefónica - according to information from the Federal Network Agency, the operator of the cell phone tower under construction in Kaiserstraße. The last hurdle before commissioning is the so-called antenna TÜV of the Federal Network Agency, which has to issue a final location certificate for the respective facility. Neither the network operators nor the municipality are planning to inform the citizens about the construction or the completion of the installation.
However, as the Federal Network Agency announced, neighbours have the possibility to demand inspection of the site files and to lodge an objection according to the Administrative Court Code if their rights might be violated by the site certification. Citizens can get an overview of existing installations and measuring sites in Bonn in the interactive EMF database of the Federal Network Agency at bundesnetzagentur.de /EMF. Among other things, the installation height, the main direction of the microwaves and the safety distance of operated transmitting antennas are recorded there.
5G expansion in Bonn is progressing
However, it is not possible to assign the masts to the mobile network operators on the interactive map. Nor is it clear how many of the stations are already transmitting with the new 5G technology. Telekom, for example, currently operates around 200 sites in Bonn, 130 of which are already equipped with modern 5G technology. The remaining 70 transmitting stations are to be upgraded in the next two to three years.
Telefónica and Vodafone also expressed particular interest in expanding sites in Bonn. Telefónica, which provides its infrastructure for o2's mobile network, said that Bonn, with 120 antennas so far, is a focal point of the 5G network expansion. Vodafone's statements referred primarily to the rapid growth of mobile data traffic in Bonn, which the company said was increasing by 25 per cent annually.
However, with the current number of 20 mobile stations with 5G technology and eleven planned expansions in the next twelve months, Vodafone is significantly lagging behind Telefónica and Telekom in Bonn. Drillisch Netz AG, which is behind the provider 1&1, does not currently have its own mobile phone masts, but uses the network capacities of Telefónica. But it is planning to build its own masks in the future.
All providers have assured that upgrades will mainly use existing infrastructure and will only be supplemented by "selective new constructions". For users, the expansion should be noticeable above all in terms of speed. As the mobile network providers stated, this would include being able to download or stream HD films with large data volumes.
5G also offers other advantages. For example, Vodafone explained that the new technology should in the future enable autonomous driving by allowing vehicles to network and communicate. This is necessary at high speed in order to warn each other of potential dangers on the road. (Original article: Jonas Dirker / Translation: Jean Lennox)