Germany’s Verband der Anbieter von Telekommunikations und Mehrwertdiensten (VATM – Association of Providers of Telecoms and Value Added Services), which represents much of the competition to incumbent Deutsche Telekom (DT), has said that over 100,000 customers are waiting for DT to unbundle the local loop so they can be switched to an alternative DSL provider. Much to the chagrin of VATM, the regulator BundesNetzAgentur (BNetzA) has yet to step in.
On behalf of VATM, spokesman Axel Spies told TeleGeography, ‘The VATM estimates that currently 100,000 customers are waiting for their DSL capable local loops to be switched over from DT to the competitors – many of them for weeks or even months. This information is based on a survey among VATM members and not publicly available. DT must confirm orders for loops within five working days and fix the date when the loop will physically be switched over. Unless the parties agree otherwise, the loop must be switched over within seven working days after DT receives the request. In practice, DT deviates from these contractual milestones significantly; thousands of switchover requests are bogged down in DT’s cumbersome ordering system. Two of the largest competitors (Arcor and Telefonica) in Germany lodged separate market abuse complaints against DT with the BNetzA in December, but BNetzA hasn’t ruled on them yet. The effect is that the competitors in Germany cannot even tell their DSL customers when their loops will be switched over – which has devastating consequences on the image of the companies and on their DSL revenues. Moreover, competitors’ call centres are swamped with calls from angry customers waiting for DSL services. Many of them also call the DT call centres to find out why their lines are not switched over. DT takes advantage of this situation by trying to convince customers who want to switch provider to change their mind and stay with DT. DT has trained ‘prevention teams’ within its sales force whose primary goal is to call customers who wish to switch and/or customers who have already switched to an alternative provider to win them back.’