Universal service: network operators do not consider expansion obligations to be sensible

At a “legally secured right to fast internet” the Federal Association of Broadband Communication (Breko) still sees considerable problems. “Right from the start we did not agree with the idea of ​​creating a legal claim. The announcement and the subsequent discussion about the design created uncertainty among the expanding companies.”, said Breko managing director Stephan Albers on August 7, 2020.

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  1. ICon GmbH & Co. KG, Pforzheim
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The Federal Ministry of Economics and the Federal Ministry of Transport explained their joint draft for the so-called Telecommunications Modernization Act (TKMoG) in a press conference on the same day.

According to government circles, the draft law stipulates that the Federal Network Agency can oblige telecommunications providers to provide a connection with a minimum standard of bandwidth (universal service) to citizens and companies with particularly poor internet coverage. The universal service may, however, legally only be based on the bandwidths actually used by the vast majority of the population. From Breko’s point of view, this leads to intermediate steps instead of a direct expansion of fiber optics. The connection is to be financed through a levy from the network operators not involved in the expansion in the area concerned.

Albers emphasized that this would not serve the common goal of advancing fiber optic expansion for people and companies. There, where the supply of citizens and companies in so-called white spots is particularly poor and expansion does not pay off for the companies, “We need complementary and targeted government funding measures that bring fiber optics into these areas too”, emphasized Albers.

Many city network operators are organized in the association, the largest members being the network operators Ewe Tel, 1 & 1 Versatel and Deutsche Glasfaser.

In the area of ​​administrative procedures that have to be carried out before the start of an expansion project, the draft law provides for a change in the approval periods. Up until now, companies often had to wait a long time for the expansion permit from the so-called road construction authorities – mostly local authorities or districts – but in future the processing authority should take action within one month of submitting the application. If this does not raise any specific objections, the application is considered complete and the processing period of three months runs. As before, the approval for the expansion must be completed within this period.

Ingbert Liebing, General Manager of the Association of Municipal Enterprises (VKU), criticized the fact that the bill still did not have the approval of all federal ministries. He said: “We are now waiting increasingly impatiently for a ministerial draft of the Telecommunications Act that has been coordinated by all departments. In view of the implementation deadline under European law, there is no more time to be lost, now decisions are urgently required..

The past few months in the corona crisis have shown how important this is and how much catching up is needed for fast Internet.

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