Regional Regulation of Bitstream Access
It was on 30 April that the Federal Network Agency (FNA) had first made its draft for a new bitstream access regulation available to the public in Germany. Now, as a next step towards implementing the regulation, the FNA has notified the draft to the BEREC and the European Commission.
The increasing roll-out of vectoring technology makes the availability of bitstream access to the local access network more and more important. The FNA’s draft therefore focusses on that network layer. For the first time, the technical and commercial access conditions will be subject to ex ante regulation. Access conditions to Deutsche Telekom’s (DT) core network will remain regulated ex post, i.e. the FNA may intervene once it sees indication for abusive pricing.
For a number of metropolitan areas, however, the draft regulation provides for an exception from this “two-step” regulatory approach. The FNA wants to grant DT regulatory holidays from core network regulation if the incumbent offers competitors bitstream access to its local access network. The list of cities qualifying for such an exemption includes a number of cities from the Ruhr area (Bochum, Gelsenkirchen, Herne) and southern Germany (Karlsruhe, Mannheim, Pforzheim and Reutlingen). In these areas, the FNA says, DT faces strong infrastructure-based competition from alternative providers rendering regulation unnecessary. From Eastern Germany only Leipzig made it into the list. Berlin, Munich and Hamburg are not included.
Industry associations and competitors have loudly criticized the FNA’s plans to deregulate bitstream access in some parts of Germany. They fear that the authority will now put a stronger focus on a “regional-regulation” approach and lift regulatory obligations from DT in many places. In the absence of comprehensive regulatory obligations, DT would be able to rebuild and exercise its market power also in metropolitan areas, Jürgen Grützner, head of the association telecoms association VATM, said.
Any questions? Please contact: Pascal Schumacher
Practice Group: Telecommunications
Further Article: "First Come, First Serve” – German Regulator Decides On VDSL Vectoring