EC opens investigation into German vectoring plans

11 May 2016

The European Commission (EC) has opened an in-depth investigation into the Federal Network Agency’s (FNA’s) plan to allow Telekom Deutschland (TD) to upgrade its network with vectoring technology in areas close to its exchanges, which was approved last month. The EC says it has concerns about the potential impact of the proposal on the development of competition and on longer term incentives for investment in future-oriented networks. While recognising that the FNA’s proposal would lead to broadband speed gains in parts of Germany (of the six million households affected, roughly 1.4 million would receive download rates or above 50Mbps for the first time), the EC believes that the alternative access solutions for rivals offered by the German watchdog are not yet sufficient to ensure an appropriate safeguarding of competition. The investigation will assess whether solutions can be found which are better suited to protect competition and future investment, while still allowing for speed-enhancing network upgrades.

The EC has three months to discuss the case with the FNA, in order to remove any elements giving rise to serious doubts as to compliance with EU law. The Commission may, at the end of the investigation period, either lift its reservations or issue an Article 7a Recommendation, which will require the FNA to amend or withdraw its draft measure.