Regulation of the telecommunications market
The German Telecommunications Act stipulates that the Federal Network Agency is to encourage competition in the sector. To this end, the authority analyzes different market segments every two years. The Federal Network Agency may impose obligations on companies with significant market strength.
In the fixed network, this means primarily that competitors may use Deutsche Telekom’s network. For this, the Group must offer upstream products. General rule: the more the competitor has expanded his own network, the fewer network sections he has to lease from Telekom. The charges for most upstream products are subject to prior authorization by the Federal Network Agency. Telekom provides the authority with detailed cost calculations for this purpose.
In the mobile network, a regulation like that in the fixed network was not required, since from the very beginning there was competition in this area. Here the Federal Network Agency takes on responsibility for allocating frequencies (as most recently in 2010 for LTE). In addition, the authority has since 2006 regulated the amount of termination rates. These are charged when a mobile communications customer makes phone calls to the network of another provider. At European level, the EU Commission also lays down the roaming fees for cell phone calls and data transmission abroad.
New focus required
Until now, regulation has primarily ensured that competition is effective, and thus charges have been low. For example, the charges for a long-distance call within Germany between 1997 and 2009 have fallen by around 95 per cent to 1.6 euro cents per minute. Now the focus should be on the expansion of broadband, since this is one of the most important infrastructures of the information society. For this purpose, barriers to investment must be removed.