A graffiti on a wall in Kensington in Great Britain links the corona pandemic to 5G mobile communications.
Dusseldorf When the first arson attacks on 5G cell phone antennas were carried out in Great Britain, experts at most took notice. But the situation changed within a few weeks. In the UK, more than 60 cellular antennas have already been set on fire. Authorities in the Netherlands, Cyprus and Ireland have now registered similar attacks.
The background to the attacks is a conspiracy theory that has become increasingly widespread in Europe over the past few weeks. In online forums, people claim that there is a direct link between the outbreak of the corona virus and the expansion of the latest 5G cellular standard. Scientists and experts are against it.
Nevertheless, there is growing concern about attacks in Germany. The president of the digital association Bitkom, Achim Berg, said: “Autonomous companies have just started an arson attack on a telecommunications network in the middle of Berlin.” Berg said that operators always take precautions to protect their networks. “Nevertheless, it cannot be ruled out that infrastructures that have been expanded in the area can be successfully attacked.”
The network operators in Germany are watching the situation. On VodafoneSpokesman said: “In the UK, there have recently been cases in which individual locations of the telecommunications infrastructure have been damaged because individuals are constructing a link between 5G and the corona virus.” The spokesman emphasized: “There is no scientific evidence or evidence for these claims. 5G, like its predecessor technologies, is a safe bet. ”
The company takes constructive criticism from concerned people seriously. “We also have an open exchange with cell phone critics,” said the spokesman. “Cases in which the infrastructure was affected by vandalism are currently not known to us in Germany.” Therefore, no additional security measures are currently being taken.
Great skepticism about network expansion
The other network operators also expressed similar comments. “Fortunately, damage to mobile phone locations due to arson, for example, occurs very rarely in this country, and the majority is pure vandalism,” said a Telefónica spokeswoman. “We do not currently see an increase, which is why there are no additional protective measures.”
At Telekom it was said: “There are always cases of vandalism,” said one Telekom spokeswoman. “But we are currently not seeing any change in us.”
The development comes at a time when there is already great skepticism about network expansion in Germany. The digital association Bitkom conducted a representative survey. Almost one in two (48 percent) spoke out against the construction of new cell towers. The Federal Network Agency had only discovered a few days ago that Telekom, Vodafone and Telefónica are lagging behind the minimum requirements in expanding their networks in Germany and that there are still too many dead spots.
ARD science journalist Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim did a research More specifically, a possible connection between cell phone radiation and cancer diseases and came to the conclusion: “So far, there is no conclusive hypothesis – no idea yet – how cell phone radiation could theoretically trigger cancer.”
Dusseldorf For years there has been a dispute over the quality of mobile communications in Germany. The federal government wanted to create the exemption in 2015. With the award of the mobile radio frequencies in 2015, it imposed targets for minimum coverage on the three network operators. Now the network agency is determining: No company has met the requirements.
The deadline had actually expired at the beginning of this year. The Federal Network Agency had taken the time to understand the results. Authorities chief Jochen Homann made a clear announcement to the public on Tuesday: “We want to see verifiable improvements over the next few months that will ensure that the requirements are fully met by the end of the year.”
On top of that. “This expressly includes the fact that we may impose fines and fines,” said Homann
The Federal Network Agency set goals in 2015. This includes that by the beginning of 2020, 98 percent of all households in Germany and 97 percent of households in each federal state must be supplied with a data speed of at least 50 megabits per second (Mbit / s) and antenna sector. In addition, motorways and rails should also be fully supplied.
Connection and data interruptions while driving on the main traffic routes should actually no longer exist in Germany today. But the reality is obviously different. The results at a glance:
Even the industry leader was unable to meet the requirements. According to the network agency, Deutsche Telekom “narrowly missed” the requirements in the federal states of Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland. The main traffic routes were also not completely supplied. The authority reported a value of 97 percent for motorways and 96 percent for railways.
At the end of 2019, there was still some catching up to do in the federal states of Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, Telekom admitted on request. A spokesman said the company is continuously expanding its network. “We have now also exceeded 97 percent in Saarland,” said the spokesman. In addition, Telekom had the best network in the mobile radio tests of the magazines “Chip” and “Connect” for the first quarter of 2020.
Telekom admitted that there was room for improvement in the motorways and railways. There is a plan to supply the routes completely. However, the approval of the necessary locations for cell towers is a challenge.
Telekom Germany boss Dirk Wössner complained: “We are already expanding beyond our commitments and could already have an even higher LTE coverage today if it were not so difficult to get new antenna locations and obtain permits in many places.”
The authority accused the network operator of not complying with the requirements in four federal states. These are Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland. In addition, the network agency found that only 96 percent of motorways and railways were only 95 percent supplied.
A spokesman for Vodafone said there was a “difference of opinion” between the company and the agency about the interpretation of the supply requirements. Since the beginning of the year, the network operator has “implemented” 2400 LTE construction projects. “We are therefore confident that we will also comply with the stricter interpretation of the Federal Network Agency,” said the spokesman.
The network operator behind the O2 brand was by far the bottom of the review by the Federal Network Agency. In all 13 federal states, the supply requirements were not met. In addition, only about 80 percent of the main traffic routes are supplied.
Handelsblatt learned that the Federal Network Agency Telefónica has therefore set tight partial deadlines. In order to meet the requirements, 7600 mobile phone locations would still be necessary, it says in a letter to the advisory board of the Federal Network Agency. By the end of June, Telefónica is to build 40 percent of the locations. The share should increase to 65 percent by the end of September and all necessary locations should be established by the end of the year, the authority dictated to the company.
A Telefónica spokeswoman said: “We have presented a clear plan on how we will achieve the missing percentage points from the expansion requirement of 2015.” The company is convinced that it can fulfill the plan. “It is in our own interest to provide large parts of the population and area with mobile communications as quickly as possible,” said the spokeswoman.
The Federal Network Agency requires network operators to report each month how many mobile phone locations they have put into operation. The authority wants to check this information on a random basis. Otherwise, the authority faces fines.
More: Actually wants 1 & 1 Drillishly become the fourth network operator in Germany. But the corona virus becomes a problem – and there is more.
Abellio is a subsidiary of the Dutch state railway NS.
Dusseldorf For Tobias Heinemann it is a “crisis of unprecedented proportions” – not only for society, but also for the railway industry. Heinemann is the head of Germany for the French Transdev. The company runs local trains and buses on behalf of the federal states.
It is a highly subsidized business because it cannot cover its costs. Now the meager income from ticket sales is also breaking down. The corona crisis could cost some railway companies their existence.
Heinemann hopes that politics and the industry will find a solution together. Because: “Customers expect public life and thus public transport to return after the corona crisis.” Strengthening the rail sector had played a crucial role, particularly in the climate debate.
But now millions of passengers are missing every day because of the pandemic. Many commuters make home offices, school traffic has completely collapsed, there are hardly any day trippers on the weekend, timetables are being thinned out. On average, only 50 to 75 percent of regional trains are currently on the move. And they are usually sparse.
The industry sounds the alarm. On top of that, companies fear that government subsidies could now be cut. However, costs for vehicles and personnel remain. Even worse: lack of staff and collective agreements have pushed personnel costs up considerably in recent years. The industry has been talking about a 40 percent increase in costs since 2015.
The margins in local passenger transport by rail are extremely thin and the competition for tenders is tough. Here “only the price counts”, industry representatives complained even before the outbreak of the pandemic. That could cost the price-aggressive newcomers head and collar in particular.
According to the latest available figures from the Federal Network Agency, the profit per euro earned was only 0.1 percent on average for transport companies in 2018. The return on sales was consistently negative in previous years. In other words: no money is earned in regional rail transport.
It is a billion dollar business. In 2020 alone, the federal government will make 8.96 billion euros available to the federal states. The federal states use these so-called regionalization funds to instruct the railway companies to operate local transport lines – with a contract term of around 15 years. Transport companies have to apply in tenders. Usually the cheapest provider wins. That could take revenge now.
There are “massive liquidity problems”
The companies fear a double effect: In addition to the lack of ticket revenue, the federal government could now come up with the idea of reducing its subsidy pot by the temporarily suspended train journeys. However, the rail companies are pushing to apply the principle “paid as ordered” and not “paid as driven”.
And they urge Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU) to clarify. So far in vain. Rail transport companies are facing “massive liquidity problems,” confirms Matthias Stoffregen, managing director of the Mofair industry association.
After all, Deutsche Bahn, as the operator of the 33,000-kilometer network and the 5700 stations, has now promised not to charge a contractual penalty if an ordered train journey fails. The regulation initially applies from March 17 to April 19. “Cohesion in the industry is particularly important in times of crisis,” said railway board member Ronald Pofalla. Heinemann welcomes the decision. You can get some air.
The state-owned company is currently avoiding anything that could be blamed for being anti-competitive. The clear agreement with the federal owner is: The basic supply in rail transport and thus Germany-wide mobility is secured, no matter what the corona crisis brings.
The rail subsidiary DB Regio, like its competitors, is affected by the standstill of public life, but it can more easily cope with losses in the group. In 2019, Regio had a turnover of 8.9 billion euros with a profit of 408 million euros (Ebit). The trend has been falling for years.
In Germany there are several hundred railway companies alongside Deutsche Bahn. Around two dozen of them make the state-owned company fierce competition in local transport. DB Regio has lost 36 percent of the market share to its competitors. According to industry forecasts, it will soon be 45 percent. In addition to Transdev, Netinera, Abellio and Keolis are currently important competitors.
Transdev has a turnover of almost one billion euros and transports 250 million passengers a year. The French parent company is owned by the state bank Caisse des Dépots and the German Rethmann group. Other DB Regio competitors also have state co-owners. Abellio is a subsidiary of the Dutch State Railways NS, Keolis belongs to the French rail group SNCF, the Italian State Railways FS is involved in Netinera.
Listed companies such as the British National Express are now also on the German network. Still with a small market share, but with a respectable success. National Express runs sections of the renowned Rhine-Ruhr-Express (RRX) train, a billion-dollar project for high-speed traffic between the Rhineland and the Ruhr area.
The Deutsche Bahn in turn runs under the name Arriva in 14 European countries buses and trains in local transport. Arriva is supposed to be sold, but nothing will come of it this year due to the corona crisis. The results of the British DB subsidiary are also unlikely to be very encouraging this year.
More: Railway workers union: Government should pay for empty trains
Dusseldorf Internet entrepreneur Ralph Dommermuth wanted to rise to the circle of network operators in Germany. He wanted Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and challenge Telefónica. The construction of the new infrastructure should actually start now. But the project is delayed. The planned schedule could no longer be met, said Dommermuth on Thursday at his company’s balance sheet press conference United Internet.
The outbreak of the corona pandemic complicates network expansion. Permits are needed for the laying of new fiber optic lines. But these are currently difficult to get. “Many building authorities have closed,” said Dommermuth. Dommermuth is also cautious when it comes to business development.
Although his company saw a sharp increase in telephone calls and data consumption in the fixed network, the company expects business to stagnate overall this year. The company behind brands such as GMX and Web.de had increased its sales by 1.8 percent to around 5.2 billion euros in the past financial year.
Adjusted earnings (Ebitda) rose 5.4 percent to just under EUR 1.27 billion. The MDax group plans to raise its dividend from five cents in the previous year to 50 cents. At the subsidiary 1 & 1 Drillisch, who is primarily responsible for the network expansion, announced Dommermuth, however, to keep the dividend at the prescribed minimum of five cents. “We want to keep our powder dry,” said Dommermuth.
However, the impact of the corona pandemic is just one of several challenges facing the company. United Internet wants to be able to use the existing networks in Germany at least in the meantime to set up its own infrastructure. His company had been talking to Telekom, Vodafone and Telefónica for months. But no agreement had yet been reached. “The three potential negotiating partners are in no particular hurry,” said Dommermuth.
Federal Network Agency could intervene
The conflict between the newcomer and the established providers was already emerging. The heads of Telekom, Vodafone and Telefónica had spoken out against building a new competitor right from the start. However, all four companies took part in the auction of the frequencies for the upcoming 5G mobile communications standard last year. United Internet alone had paid more than one billion euros for the use of the frequencies.
The Handelsblatt learned from corporate circles that the network operators Vodafone and Telefónica had already submitted contracts for the shared use of their infrastructure. However, the network operators could not agree on the financial details with United Internet or 1 & 1 Drillisch.
If the companies do not come together, the case could end up with the Federal Network Agency. The authority sets the framework for the telecommunications industry in Germany. It had decided against an obligation to share the infrastructure required by United Internet. Authorities president Jochen Homann had argued, however, that there was a “negotiation requirement” and a “prohibition of discrimination”.
If negotiations between the companies fail, the authority could check whether government intervention is necessary. However, it is unclear how long such a check would take.
More: The corona pandemic is a stress test for the data networks.
Berlin In a few weeks, the Federal Network Agency will have decided whether the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea pipeline will be exempt from EU regulation or not. The upcoming decision of the Bonn regulatory authority is of fundamental importance for investors. They refer to a legal opinion that supports their request for an exemption.
Essentially, the question is whether the principles of network regulation that previously only applied to pipelines that start and end from within the EU also apply to Nord Stream 2. Nord Stream 2 is an import pipeline that is to lead natural gas from Russia across the Baltic Sea to Germany. The construction of the pipeline is not yet complete.
Due to pressure from the United States, the laying of fewer missing pipes had to be interrupted at the end of last year. If the principles of European network regulation apply to Nord Stream 2, the operators of the pipeline in the German territory of the Baltic Sea would also have to grant third parties access to the line – and the charges for the use of the pipeline would be controlled by the regulatory authority.
The unbundling would be even more serious: the gas producer and the operator of the pipeline section on German territory should not be identical. The pipeline is a project of the Russian gas company Gazpromwho wants to operate the pipeline and also deliver the gas.
Nord Stream 2 AG, which is wholly owned by Gazprom, submitted an application to the Federal Network Agency weeks ago to be exempt from EU regulation. In principle, the EU internal gas market directive provides for an exemption from regulation; however, the possibility of exemption only opens up for pipelines that were completed before May 23, 2019.
Expertise provides new focus
The company sees its rights violated because the EU regulation was only created when major investment decisions had long been made and significant parts of the management had already been completed.
A legal opinion from the Tübingen university lecturers Martin Nettesheim and Stefan Thomas provides the company with new arguments. In their report, the summary of which is available in the Handelsblatt, the two lawyers came to the conclusion that there was “no comprehensible justification for the meaning of regulation of lines that lead to the EU from a third party for the functioning of the internal market within the EU should have ”.
“The new regulation suddenly and seamlessly captures gas infrastructures, the construction of which is well advanced. If investors had known about the new regulation when planning and applying for it, they might have calculated quite differently, ”said Stefan Thomas the Handelsblatt.
The report places a special focus on the concept of completion. It falls short of “interpreting the term solely in the structural-technical sense,” said Thomas. “Because it has to be taken into account if Nord Stream 2 AG has already made billions of dollars in trust in the previous legal situation when the new natural gas market directive came into force.”
It must also be taken into account “if the construction work on German territory, to which the applicability of the new directive is limited, has already been practically completed”. The university lecturer is convinced that the term completion must therefore be understood in an “economic and functional sense”. As a result, according to the lawyer, the narrow interpretation of the term completion would lead to unequal treatment in comparable cases.
“Because structurally completed pipelines and the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which has not yet been completely completed, are essentially comparable in their characteristics: investments were made that were irreversible. It would be disproportionate not to treat them right away, ”warns Thomas.
Negative voices on the project
The opponents of the project see it differently. They argue that Nord Stream 2 increases Europe’s dependence on Russian gas supplies and weakens competition. According to the Federal Network Agency, eleven EU countries alone took part in the consultation process, which is part of the process.
The states had “in some cases made extensive statements,” the authority said on request. The competent decision chamber of the network agency is currently evaluating the statements. According to the network agency, Denmark, Estonia, Italy, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Sweden and Slovakia participated.
The Eastern European countries in particular have been fighting the project vehemently for years. In addition, according to a spokesman for the authority, “shortly” the decision to invite companies who want to participate in the procedure will be published on the website of the network agency.
The network agency already decided on what companies this would be on March 17, but has not yet made it public. However, one of the invited companies has already indicated that it has been invited by the Federal Network Agency, said the Polish energy group PGNiG At the end of last week with.
The company may present its view in the process and also view files. “Nord Stream 2 must not be exempt from regulation,” said PGNiG boss Jerzy Kwiecinski. An exemption is only conceivable for those pipelines that were completed before the EU natural gas market directive came into force.
More: The United States is doing everything possible to prevent the Baltic Sea pipeline. Further punitive measures are being prepared in Washington. The economy is alarmed.
New power lines are necessary for the energy transition in Germany to succeed. Picture: dpa
Many thousands of kilometers of power lines are necessary for Germany’s energy transition to succeed. But the schedule has slipped enormously. A researcher can still report progress.
Dhe Südlink is making a small but important step forward: the planning approval process has started for the two northernmost sections of the planned electricity motorway. The Federal Network Agency announced a few days ago. The south link consists of two routes, most of which run through Germany on a common corridor. Starting points are Brunsbüttel and Wilster in Schleswig-Holstein. The planning approval procedure that has now been initiated is aimed at the first 16 and 22 kilometers to Wischhafen in Lower Saxony.
Like the other two electricity highways, the Ultranet and the Südostlink, the Südlink is primarily intended to bring wind power from northern Germany to the south. There are major industrial consumption focuses, and three of the six nuclear power plants still in operation are in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. The electricity highways, which are to be operated with the new technology of high-voltage direct current transmission (HVDC), are to be a total of 2800 kilometers long.
Berlin “We can try it, but I’m on the train.” Those who travel by train often know the warning, which – in a way or something similar – is often preceded by phone calls made there. Finally, it is not unlikely that the conversation just started will be interrupted again after a few seconds. Mobile radio reception by rail is still too patchy.
“Even on main routes, radio coverage is not yet optimal,” says Karl-Peter Naumann, honorary chairman of the Pro Bahn passenger association. The reason for this is that Deutsche Bahn always refers to the infrastructure along the route: “Without a good and extensive network along the railway lines, good cell phone reception is not possible on the trains,” says the train. And for the expansion of the network, the three mobile operators are Telekom, Vodafone and Telefónica responsible.
By the end of last year, at least all ICE routes in Germany should be provided with fast mobile communications, i.e. LTE. So the Federal Network Agency had prescribed. However, the operators finally had to admit that they would not achieve this goal in time. At least Telekom had a network coverage of 96.4 percent, Vodafone 95 percent. Telefónica customers have good reception on only around 80 percent of the ICE routes.
If you ask the companies, however, they are not alone to blame for the fact that mobile surfing and phone calls often work so badly. “Disks in ICE massively degrade reception and thus ensure that, for example, of 30 MBit per second, which can be reached directly on the track outside the train, only 30 arrive on the ICE,” says a Vodafone spokesman. Telekom and Telefónica also agree: window panes can have a negative impact on reception.
It is no coincidence that many train windows actually do not allow reception to pass well: they are so insulated that the trains do not overheat. “These windows are provided with a thin metal layer that keeps solar radiation away,” explains the train – and admits: “Cellular waves are also difficult to get into the train through the metal layer.”
Radio masts are missing
To ensure that the signal arrives at the passenger, the train uses signal amplifiers – so-called repeaters. The radio waves on the outside of the train are picked up by antennas, transmitted to the inside and passed through the wagons via the repeaters.
“We have already equipped all ICE trains with cell phone repeaters,” said Sabina Jeschke, head of technology. “Now we are working on technically upgrading the IC fleet as well.” This is helpful for Pro-Bahn Honorary Chairman Naumann. “You can already tell the difference between sitting in a train with repeaters or in an old train that doesn’t have one,” he says.
Nevertheless, Deutsche Bahn is currently experimenting with an alternative: frequency-permeable windows. The heat-insulating metal layer of the windows is processed with a laser in such a way that it becomes transparent to all frequencies of radio waves.
This has several advantages: On the one hand, the panes are significantly less susceptible to maintenance. On the other hand, according to Bahn, they are compatible with all mobile radio standards and do not need to be converted or retrofitted – for example, when the new 5G standard will soon be expanded. The windows have nothing to do with the WLAN offer in long-distance rail transport; this signal still comes to customers via antennas and WLAN routers.
The tests with the windows would be carried out under real conditions and should be completed this year, the company says. “The first results show that there are no problems with the use in high-speed applications.” There is therefore no schedule for possible widespread use. But it is easy to imagine that the disks will replace the repeaters in the medium term.
Nevertheless, where there are no radio masts, even the best windows are of no use. “You also have to blame politics,” says Naumann. This failed to put enough pressure on the mobile operators. For example, the Federal Network Agency has so far been reluctant to pay fines due to missed deadlines.
Structural hurdles are often responsible for the fact that the construction of antennas on the rails is particularly problematic. For this purpose, one is now in discussion with the train, for example to better supply ICE tunnels, according to Telefónica and Vodafone.
According to the network agency, by the end of 2022 all “important rail routes”, i.e. ICE and IC routes with a large number of passengers, must be supplied with at least 100 Mbit / s. By the end of 2024, all other rails should be covered at least 50 Mbit / s. For some time, the tentative, often only very short, telephone calls should remain everyday on many German tracks.
More: This is how Deutsche Bahn is gearing up for the corona epidemic
Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Berlin The auto parts supplier Webasto and the auditors at EY have already experienced what the worst-case scenario looks like. In both companies, employees had been infected with the corona virus. Entire office buildings were cleared, employees and teams were sent to quarantine. The corona virus is spreading more and more in Germany – and is increasingly affecting companies. But what happens in companies whose services are essential?
In power plants, the control rooms of electricity and gas networks, the control departments of the telecommunications networks or in the tower of an airport, a short-term quarantine measure is also a horror scenario. The operation of critical infrastructure, which is so important for the economy, must also be ensured during the coronavirus epidemic.
The Federal Network Agency, which is responsible for the energy networks and telecommunications, says the situation is “very serious”. “We are in contact with the transmission system operators and let us be informed about the location and about precautionary measures,” said a spokesman with a view to the large overhead power lines.
Currently, however, “neither suspicious cases nor confirmed cases are known”: “In our opinion, the transmission system operators are best prepared for possible cases.” He made a similar statement about telecommunications. Here, too, the authorities see the industry as “best prepared”.
In fact, it is standard for operators of critical infrastructure to prepare themselves for possible crises. Emergency plans must ensure that the operation of electricity or gas networks, for example, is always maintained – regardless of whether there are technical problems, disasters or terrorist attacks.
During past epidemics such as the outbreak of avian flu H5N1 since 1997 or swine flu H1N1 in 2009, the emergency plans were also designed to spread the virus. Now the companies from the affected sectors have also adapted the plans to the current Corona epidemic.
Energy companies are preparing
To this end, the Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief has published an updated recommendation for action especially for operators of critical infrastructures. It openly warned that a pandemic “could endanger the infrastructure of the economy and society as a whole”.
“As a company, we have a social responsibility to deal appropriately with this exceptional situation,” explain the four operators of the German electricity transmission network Amprion, 50 Hertz, Tennet and TransnetBW: “Our concern is to maintain our system and business operations at all times guarantee and protect our workforce from possible contagions. “
The network operators – like many companies in Germany – have suspended business trips to high-risk areas, for example, but have also restricted business trips within Germany. However, “special requirements” still apply to the employees in the control rooms in which the networks are regulated and in the technical teams that are absolutely necessary for maintaining the network.
As a rule, companies are reluctant to give details – because some of them are also used against other crises such as terrorist attacks. At the energy company Eon, who operates hundreds of thousands of kilometers of regional power lines in Germany alone, only says: “We are well prepared for a possible crisis in order to be able to supply our customers with electricity safely and reliably at all times.”
In industry circles, however, it is said that in the control room as well as in other critical areas, employees can work autonomously and largely isolated for weeks in an emergency, thus ensuring network operation. In such cases, staff, rooms and supplies would be kept available anyway. This also applies to the technology, for example spare parts for substations or lines. In addition, every major network operator has reserve control rooms.
Power plant operators also feel ready. “An epidemic is challenging, but we’re prepared,” said David Bryson, Chief Operation Officer of Uniper. The company works with rotation plans in order to always have an operational team ready.
Whole crews in quarantine
However, maintaining traffic is also critical in traffic. The Lufthansa prepares, for example, extensive measures to ensure flight operations if the virus spreads further. “We are currently working on backup plans for key areas of our airlines, such as the operations control center, check-in, and crew management, so that we can maintain operations in the event that we need to close a building or quarantine teams,” said Group- Boss Carsten Spohr sent an internal message to the employees last Friday.
Among other things, Lufthansa has technically equipped additional employees to work from home. The employees were also reminded once again to take the computer and the token necessary for secure IT access with them every evening. Even instructions on how to use office software like Office365 at home were distributed. Wherever possible, the tasks were designed redundantly – so that they can be carried out both in Frankfurt and in Munich, for example.
Provision is also made at the German air traffic control to ensure the control of air traffic in German airspace. Business trips to the affected countries and regions are no longer approved. Private trips to affected areas must be registered. In addition, visitors no longer have access to the most sensitive area of DFS: the pilot workstations. This is to reduce the risk of infection.
In addition, the official participation in major events was canceled. The management also strongly advises against private participation in major events. “DFS has had a pandemic plan for years. It will now be adapted to the current topics and kept ready, ”explains a spokeswoman.
Precautionary measures at DFS are also important because pilotage tasks cannot simply be carried out elsewhere. Training is required for each location. Working from home is not an alternative here either. DFS operates four control centers from which it monitors German airspace. It is also active at 16 airports and controls arrivals and departures there.
When schools and day care centers are closed
In its letter, the Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief gives the operators of critical infrastructure five key recommendations for action. First of all, this includes a plan for quarantine measures. Companies must ensure that key functions can continue to be carried out, even if some employees should fail at the same time due to illness or protective regulations. “This could include, for example, certain teams no longer working together so that employees cannot infect each other,” said one insider.
Second, the Federal Office is carrying out a scenario in which a number of public institutions are closed, such as schools or day care centers. This could lead to many employees failing because they have to take care of relatives like their own children. The Federal Office therefore recommends preparing alternative work processes such as home office, shorter working hours or shift work.
Third, the Federal Office describes how priorities can be set when troubleshooting. Should there be a massive shortage of personnel, not all problems could be solved directly. Companies have to decide what is important and when. To this end, the authority recommends that customers be informed accordingly transparently.
Fourth, the authority sees local public transport as a risk for companies. Traffic such as buses or trains could be restricted to curb the spread of the virus, as happened in Italy or China. This would prevent employees from appearing for work. For this, the Federal Office recommends home office solutions or in-house driving services.
As a last point, the authority warns of road closures or entire regions. “Some of the countries affected by the corona virus have set up restricted areas, so far this has not been necessary in Germany,” the office writes. However, this could change in the future. An exchange with authorities is therefore sensible and special permits can be obtained.
More: How Webasto got the corona crisis under control