The proposed regulations do not bring greater transparency for consumers, but more bureaucracy.
BITKOM, Germany’s digital association, and the non-profit association SRIW (Selbstregulierung Informationswirtschaft e.V.) have expressed their surprise over today’s decision by the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur) not to support the German telecommunication sector’s initiative to increase transparency for consumers in the broadband market. In BITKOM’s view, in a European comparison, the planned voluntary commitment would have created a unique level of transparency for consumers in the area of broadband internet access. “This decision is especially surprising,” said Dr. Bernhard Rohleder, CEO of BITKOM, “as in May 2013 the Federal Network Agency was still urging German network operators to introduce voluntary commitments to enhance transparency for users of broadband connectivity. The sector,” he added, “offered to introduce self-regulation measures on an unprecedented scale.” SRIW’s Managing Director Patrick von Braunmühl commented, “Rejecting the industry’s offer of effective self-regulation is a missed opportunity to strengthen the responsibility of businesses in the sector.”
For the very first time, these proposals would have made it possible to compare the bandwidths actually achieved in the terrestrial network across all network technologies. In mobile communications too, combining nationwide, objective measurements with individual measurements for customers via a cross-provider smart phone app would have significantly improved the level of transparency with regards to network quality.
Instead, though, the Federal Network Agency is now placing its faith in proposed regulations which, although they may integrate many of the suggestions for self-regulation, fall short of them at decisive points. The Federal Network Agency, for example, evidently continues to rely on the very limited significance of online tests for measuring network quality, and plans to introduce what are, in some cases, very bureaucratic reporting regulations for businesses. Moreover, these plans entail implementation deadlines unable to be achieved as they stand. Dr. Bernhard Rohleder noted, “We are very much concerned that today’s decision by the Federal Network Agency will lead to more bureaucracy rather than more transparency for consumers.” The industry will participate constructively in the Federal Network Agency’s public consultation on the proposed regulations to ensure that the momentum already created towards greater transparency for consumers can be sustained.