October 24, 2018 / 6:42 PM / 22 days ago

German rail operator lobbies for fast internet cable network- report

BERLIN, Oct 24 (Reuters) - German rail operator Deutsche Bahn is lobbying the government for a 3.5 billion euro investment to lay fibre optic cables along its railway network, Handelsblatt newspaper reported on Wednesday, citing government sources.

Just over half of the 33,400 km rail network is covered by broadband and state-owned Deutsche Bahn wants fibre optic cables along all of the track, which would massively improve internet speed.

Germany ranks 29th out of 34 industrialised economies for fast internet connections and Chancellor Angela Merkel has identified fixing the country’s digital deficiencies as a priority.

The government wants to start a 2.4 billion euro ($2.73 billion) digitalisation fund, which will be increased by revenues generated from the auction of 5G mobile licences.

Handelsblatt said Deutsche Bahn would use some of the new infrastructure for its own systems and lease the rest to internet service providers.

Deutsche Bahn and the Finance Ministry could not be reached for comment.

$1 = 0.8780 euros Reporting by Joseph Nasr; editing by John Stonestreet

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