The expansion of fast and stable Internet on the train is a long time coming. The necessary network expansion is not scheduled to start until 2023.
Get in, start the notebook and work until you arrive at the destination station: What is considered a great advantage of the train over the plane often turns out to be an empty promise when an Internet connection is required. Because the reception is bad even on many main routes. The bandwidth is then not sufficient for video streaming and the usual e-mail traffic. But even if an LTE or 5G connection is established, stable high data rates are a rarity – even in densely populated areas. Reliable connections, as known from other countries, are therefore rare in Germany. This often also applies to the train WiFi, which ultimately also depends on the mobile network along the route.
Deutsche Bahn wants to change that in cooperation with network operators. As early as June 2021, Deutsche Telekom announced that it would enable almost complete and fast reception along German railway lines from 2026. Vodafone, on the other hand, wants to have expanded its network accordingly by 2025. Initially, however, both network operators only want to cover ICE and IC routes better, Telekom’s goal is 200 to 250 MBit/s along the total of 7800 kilometers of route – Vodafone would like to offer 225 MBit/s. The 13,800 km long regional network, on the other hand, will only have a bandwidth of 100 to 125 Mbit/s. Nothing is known about Telefónica’s plans.
In this article we explain why the expansion is taking so long and can only start in early 2023. We also show what role Deutsche Bahn plays in this and how Germany compares to other European countries.