There are plenty of places to choose from when looking for a new telephone company. Could it be Deutsche Telekom? Or one of your competitors from 1 & 1 to O2? But whatever you decide, in the end, behind many brands is often hidden: the Telekom network. Because the former monopoly must grant competition access to its fixed network, which it has equipped for faster DSL internet in recent years – with all kinds of fiber optics before the last piece of copper cable in the House. The Federal Network Agency specifies the conditions for this access. The authority wants to allow competition, especially since Telekom had previously inherited its fixed network from the Bundespost.
But the technology continues to evolve. Direct fiber optic cables are here to replace old copper. Regulations should also evolve: if Telekom now installs more and more optical fibers in homes and apartments, it must continue to grant access to its competitors – and without discrimination, under the same conditions as its own sales department. But the network agency no longer wants to set the conditions in advance. This is what the authority is proposing in a project for the next few years. “The Federal Network Agency reserves the right to intervene only in cases of anti-competitive abuse,” said President Jochen Homann. He speaks of a “paradigm shift”.
With this so-called “light regulation”, the authority wants to encourage telecoms to accelerate the expansion of fiber optics in Germany. Across the country, 1.9 million homes recently used a direct fiber-optic connection to surf, the network agency reports. So there are still many more DSL and cable customers. But the trend towards more streaming, video conferencing, and home networking argues for fast – and not exactly cheap – fiber optic in the long run. Companies like Telekom and Deutsche Glasfaser want to install millions of direct fiber optic connections in this country in the years to come. The expansion costs the industry billions of euros, but in many places the state is promoting it as well.
Before the network’s agency makes a final decision, it now gives industry five weeks to comment. Telekom welcomes the new approach in principle. However, CEO Tim Höttges made it clear over the weekend that regulation and subsidies are not the only conditions for direct fiber expansion. “These are, for example, fast approval procedures and the approval of modern laying technology,” the manager warned.