German Government Releases Planned Draft Legislation to Ban Branded WiFi Routers
Awaited draft legislation published after legislative attempt
The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy published the awaited draft legislation that would prohibit Internet Service Providers from forcing standardized WiFi routers on their customers. This move comes after a legislative attempt by the German regulator Federal Network Agency in 2014 and heated discussions between consumer associations on the one hand and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) on the other hand (cf. Bergmann/Schumacher, MMR 2015, p. 13 et seqq.).
The Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy said the new rules allowing customers to freely choose their preferred routers would promote free competition and innovation and strengthen consumer’s rights. The Ministry made clear that they intended to prevent market foreclosure. ISPs offering standardized routers often exclusively deal with the same suppliers extruding independent suppliers of routing hardware from the market. The new legislation adapting the existing law on Radio Equipment and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment (FTEG) and the Telecommunications Act (TKG) would precise ISPs obligations and most importantly include an explicit definition of the contentious Network Termination Point (NTP). Consumers would be entitled to connect their preferred telecommunications terminal equipment to the public telecommunications network under the new version of Sec. 11 of the FTEG. ISPs, on the other hand, would be obliged to provide their customers with the necessary technical information to do so. Sec. 45 d (1) of the Telecommunications Act would be amended to explicitly state that the public telecommunications network terminates at a passive NTP. This definition of a “passive” NTP, clearly refers to the wall plug as a termination point. Thus it would prevent ISPs from circumventing the new rules by defining the outlets of their standardized routers as NTPs as they have done in the past.
After the ongoing consultation of the Federal States, trade Associations and companies the Government wants to notify the European Commission of the new legislation in a next step.
For further questions:
Michael Bergmann: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pascal Schumacher: email@example.com
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German regulator about to ban branded WiFi routers provided by Internet service providers