The European Commission (EC) has accepted a revised regulatory proposal from Germany’s telecoms regulator, the Federal Network Agency (FNA), to allow incumbent Telekom Deutschland (TD) to upgrade its network with Vectoring technology, but says it expects further developments to ensure competition is maintained. In May the EC raised concerns about the potential impact that the FNA’s original proposal – which would allow TD to upgrade its network with Vectoring in areas close to its exchanges – would have on the development of competition and on longer term incentives for investment in future-oriented networks. While recognising that the proposal would lead to broadband speed gains in parts of Germany (roughly 1.4 million would receive download rates of above 50Mbps for the first time), the EC said it believed that the alternative access solutions for rivals offered by the FNA were not yet sufficient to ensure safeguarding of competition. For example, virtual access to TD’s street cabinets was restricted to one alternative operator per cabinet, while any altnet wishing to migrate to the street cabinet would have to invest in their own fibre.
Following the EC’s opening of an in-depth investigation, the FNA agreed to address the vast majority of concerns and amended its proposals accordingly, with Brussels stating that the ‘revised plans constitute a clear improvement … on each of the points raised in the Commission’s serious doubts letter.’ The revised proposal removed the limit on the number of access seekers at a street cabinet, and granted access to ducts and dark fibre for two years to altnets currently present at the local exchange and wishing to use virtual access at the street cabinet. The plan will give TD’s competitors access to Vectoring in more areas and improve the conditions for virtual access to the last mile, while the FNA also agreed to develop the conditions for an alternative ‘Layer 2 Access Product’, which will then be subject to EC scrutiny. Brussels expects the FNA to notify it of these conditions ‘as soon as possible after the summer break’.