Pressure is mounting on EU Digital Commissioner Günther Oettinger as he received an incensed letter from a regional minister asking him to intervene and change Germany’s new rules for broadband internet.
Alexander Bonde (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen), minister for rural areas and consumer protection in Oettinger’s home state of Baden-Württemberg, sent the German commissioner a letter last Friday (8 April) blasting the new telecoms regulation. Bonde warned Oettinger that the decision is “for competition and economic reasons highly alarming”.
Oettinger received another complaint on the same day from 13 German MEPs, who detailed their objections to the new telecoms regulation in a three-page brief.
Germany’s telecoms regulator, the Bundesnetzagentur, notified the European Commission last Thursday (7 April) about its decision to allow major operator Deutsche Telekom to exclusively use the controversial vectoring technology on copper wires to provide high speed broadband connections in some areas.
Competing companies are up in arms about the decision, which they claim will prevent them from servicing a portion of German households.
The Commission has one month to respond to the German regulator. Smaller telecoms operators are hoping it will raise “serious doubts” and open an inquiry into the decision.
Bonde refuted the claim that Deutsche Telekom will improve high-speed internet access in Germany.
“The digital divide will become deeper in this situation. Copper cable has finally reached its limits, especially in rural areas,” he wrote.
Bonde argued that broadband connections in the Black Forest can only be improved if new fibre optic cable networks are built. Critics argue the Bundesnetzagentur’s decision to give Deutsche Telekom the exclusive right to use vectoring in some areas would delay companies from building new fibre networks.
German MEPs from the EPP and S&D groups wrote in their letter that the regulation would create “huge disadvantages” for areas with poor broadband service.
In its 2016 scoring of EU countries, the European Commission ranked Germany below average on fast broadband services, at spot 21 out of 28 member states.