Article – German Language
Previously I had touched on the issue of government involvement with providing competitive telecoms and Internet service. This was more about assuring that incumbent operators aren’t being given an unfair advantage over competing operators and is a situation that is happening in the USA but also happening in Germany.
In the USA where cable-TV companies and incumbent telcos in areas where there isn’t much in the way of competitive Internet service, the customers are being given an increasingly raw deal and are starting to face volume-limited tariff charts in a similar vein to what is happening in Australia and New Zealand and also what happens with mobile-broadband services.
Germany is facing an Internet market where their telecommunications regulator, Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA), is being too favourable with Deutsche Telekom who is the incumbent telecommunications provider in that country. But there are not as many competitors in the telecoms and Internet-service space and they aren’t operating on a level playing field to what Deutsche Telekom is operating on.
What has been happening there is that Deutsche Telekom who were previously offering “flat-rate” Internet packages are moving towards similar packages to what is offered in Australia where there is bandwidth throttling and volume-driven packages. This has caused Deutsche Telekom to end up being called “Throttle-Kom” (Drosselkom) and there is consumer-law-based litigation taking place in some of the states (Lander) concerning breach of contract in relation to the “flat-rate” services.
Personally, I would like to see this also looked at by the European Commission in relation to a required level of competition for telecommunications and Internet services in built-up areas especially if Germany is to seek EU aid for communications projects. Similarly, German government departments at both the federal and state (Lander) level who have responsibility concerning competition and consumer issues need to have the country’s telecommunications and Internet-service market looked at.
Over the last decade, France and the UK have taken steps to assure competitive telecom service including Ofcom (UK’s telecoms regulator) hauling British Telecom over the coals to have them provide competitive access to the local loop at reasonable prices. This has been because the telecommunications regulators and the competition / consumer regulators have had real teeth and didn’t curry favour with particular operators.
If a country needs a lively Internet and telecommunications market where everyone can have access to a quality service at affordable prices, the telecoms regulators in that country need to work the market on a level playing field. Here, they cannot let incumbent telecoms and cable-TV operators run amok or apply double standards between incumbent and competitive operators.