The European Commission has opened an investigation over the German telecoms regulator(BNetzA) pricing of mobile termination rates (MTRs). The German regulator consequently does not follow the EU recommended approach for the calculation of MTRs, which leads to competition and consumer harm.

The German regulator (BNetzA) does not follow the EU recommended approach for the calculation of mobile termination rates (MTRs), which leads to competition and consumer harm. The termination rates are the rates telecoms networks charge each other to deliver calls between networks, and each operator has market power over access to customers on its own network. These costs are ultimately included in call prices to the detriment of consumers and business. The proposed MTRs are based on the previously applied methodology which is contrary to the EU regulatory framework. If adopted the new rates in Germany would be 80% higher than in the vast majority of the Member States.

Background

In its new proposal BNetzA defines MTRs that should apply as of 1 December 2014 for a period of two years. In March 2013 (see IP/13/180), the Commission criticised BNetzA's proposal for calculating MTRs which as a result where much higher than in the Member States which follow the recommended approach and subsequently issued a recommendation requesting BNetzA to amend or withdraw the proposal. The German regulator however did not follow the Commission's recommendation. On 20 October, 2014 the Commission issued a recommendation on BNetzA proposal to introduce the same MTRs for operator sipgate Wireless as for all the other German operators (see IP/14/1180). However these MTRs expire at the end of November. Therefore BNetzA came with a new proposal on the 24 October.

The current investigation concerns mobile network operators (MNOs) i.e. Telekom Deutschland, Vodafone, E-Plus Mobikfunk and the mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs - operators who provide call termination services in their own virtual mobile network vis-à-vis third parties, and negotiate the call termination charges on their own, although they use a network of a host operator) i.e. : Lycamobile Germany and sipgate Wireless.

The Commission now has three months to discuss the case with BNetzA, in close cooperation with the body of European regulators (BEREC), to make it compliant with EU law. The Commission may, at the end of the investigation period, either lift its reservations or demand that BNetzA withdraws or amends the proposed measure.

 

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