On its way to providing the population with the most comprehensive mobile radio coverage possible, the tower operator Vantage Towers has set up more than 190 non-permanent sites across Germany in 2022 on behalf of Vodafone. This will bridge the time until the construction and commissioning of permanent towers. Due to the difficult search for suitable locations, opposing citizens’ initiatives, lengthy approval procedures, supply shortages and overburdened construction companies, it sometimes takes many months to several years in Germany until a permanent tower can be erected. The mobile solutions provide a quick solution and thus the basis for a digital transformation in Germany in which all citizens can participate – especially in rural areas.
Thanks to the amended building codes in the states of Lower Saxony and Saarland, the commissioning of a mobile mast in these federal states is particularly quick and without complications: as soon as a suitable plot of land is found, all that is needed when setting up the mobile unit is to inform the municipality and notify the responsible building authority. A building application and permit are not required for the temporary solution. The approval process for the construction of a permanent site usually runs in parallel.
Christian Sommer, Board Member at Vantage Towers: “Lower Saxony and Saarland have recognised the problem of the complex expansion of digital infrastructure. The exemption from approval of non-permanent sites in their building codes is a clear commitment to the rapid expansion of mobile communications. I am pleased that our company was able to place over 190 mobile units this year. It was an immense effort for us, but with a high impact: around half a million people now have a network for the first time as a result and can benefit from the many advantages of digitalisation. We hope that many more federal states will follow the example of Lower Saxony and Saarland.”
Olaf Lies, Lower Saxony’s Digitization Minister: “In Lower Saxony, the rapid expansion of the digital infrastructure is a top priority. This is also why we have created considerable simplifications for mobile antenna systems via the permit exemption. Thanks to this solution, many areas in Lower Saxony are already covered today where they would otherwise only be in two years’ time. At the same time, we are also relieving our heavily burdened licensing authorities. We will therefore continue to rely on progressive and creative solutions to offer tower operators the best conditions for the fastest possible expansion of mobile networks in Lower Saxony.”
In countries such as Portugal, the building permit for permanent radio towers is deemed to have been granted after 30 days if the relevant authority has not commented on it by then.
Before a new base station can go into operation in Germany, tower operators must take many things into account: In order to meet the requirements of the radio network planning of the mobile network operators, for example, the location, topography, surrounding buildings as well as building law requirements play a major role in the search for new properties. After a suitable plot of land has been contractually secured, the plans are coordinated with the respective municipality and the responsible building authority. Once all open points have been clarified, the properties usually have to be appropriately upgraded and access routes for the installation activities have to be ensured. In addition, new power lines usually have to be laid or temporary back-up power supply systems have to be provided. Furthermore, all new sites go through a lengthy building permit process before construction can begin. After the mast has been successfully erected, it usually takes a few more weeks for the mobile network operators to integrate the active equipment into the existing network.