Germany’s Federal Network Agency (FNA, known locally as Bundesnetzagentur) has published its draft decision for the framework conditions under which telecoms operator can gain access to the ‘last mile’ network of Telekom Deutschland in the next few years. The draft regulation proposes that the FNA will not regulate Telekom’s new fibre-optic networks with the same intensity as its copper networks and will stop ex-ante regulation of access to the last mile of the new gigabit infrastructure. The non-discriminatory access to the fibre-optic networks of the Telekom is to be secured by an equal treatment obligation according to the Equivalence of Input principle (EoI), under which other companies can obtain access under the same system and process conditions as those available to Telekom itself. The fees paid by other operators to Telekom for the use of its fibre-optic networks are to be checked in the event of anomalies. In order to promote the expansion of fibre-optics, the planned regulatory framework also provides for expanded duct access to accelerate the expansion of the network and save unnecessary civil engineering costs. The fees for empty conduit access should, as before, be subject to approval.
The regulation of Telekom’s copper networks is to be retained for the most part, although the operator will now be obliged to notify in good time any migration to fibre-optic networks associated with the dismantling of copper infrastructure and to present migration plans. The FNA will not give Telekom any guidelines as to whether and when it has to switch off parts of its copper network, as the regulation focuses on making the transition transparent for users, consumers and other providers with sufficiently long lead times.
The FNA has announced its regulatory proposals in anticipation of the Telecommunications Modernisation Act, which will come into force on 1 December 2021. Interested parties have until 15 November to comment in writing on the draft decision.
‘The FNA is setting the course for accelerated fibre-optic expansion in Germany. Unlike the copper network, access to the fibre-optic network of Telekom is not regulated ex ante,’ commented the FNA’s President, Jochen Homann, adding: ‘This is a big step and the signal for Telekom to rapidly expand its fibre-optic network. In return, it must allow competitors to use its fibre-optic network under the same conditions as its own sales department. The FNA reserves the right to intervene only in the event of anti-competitive abuse. The FNA expects Telekom and its competitors to use the new market regime to significantly increase their investments in fibre-optics. This reduction in regulation is a paradigm shift that shows that the FNA reacts flexibly and innovatively to new market developments.’