Thursday, May 19, 2011

EU Action Targets Deutsche Telekom

The European Union has taken legal action to oblige the German government to comply with EU law and so not protect Deutsche Telekom from competition on the broadband market.

If applied as originally drafted, a German law would have made it difficult for telecom operators to compete on this market. As Germany has now removed the provision in question, the European Commission has closed the infringement case it had opened against Germany. The case goes back to 2007, when amendments to the German telecoms law provided for an effective exemption of Deutsche Telekom's fast internet access network (VDSL) from any measures taken by the German regulator to promote competition in this area of the telecoms market. In December 2009 the EU's Court of Justice confirmed the Commission's position that the new German law limited the discretionary powers of the national telecoms regulator, in contravention of EU telecoms rules. The Court also confirmed that existing and potential competitors were placed at an unfair advantage by this law.

The European Commission has also closed a second infringement case against Germany concerning restrictions on the technologies allowed to use the 2.6 GHz radio frequency band. Germany's national rules have now been changed, opening the frequencies to all compatible wireless systems that provide telecoms services (i.e. not only mobile but also fixed wireless services). As a result, there is no longer any impediment to the roll-out of EU-wide wireless broadband services in that frequency band and customers stand to have more choice.