Update 23 Feb 2007: Today's Bundesgesetzblatt contains the Act amending the Telecommunications Act. Key provisions, including those relating to 'emerging markets' come into effect on 24 Feb 2007.
Update 15 Dec 2006: The
Bundesrat has now voted the Bill. The next steps are: (a) forwarding the text to the President of the Federal Republic for signature to pass it into Law, and (b) its publication in the Bundesgesetzblatt.
Update 14 Dec 2006: The Bundesrat (Upper House of Parliament, representing the Länder) is now expected to debate the Bill on 15 Dec 2006 (item 74 on the agenda). The full text (in German) can be accessed by clicking clicking here.
Update 30 Nov 2006: The Bill was voted today by the Bundestag (Lower House of Parliament).
The parties that currently constitute the majority in the German
Federal parliament (CDU/CSU and SPD) have agreed to make modifications to the
Telecommunications Bill, a draft of which was approved by the Federal Government
in May this year.
The proposed amendments to the Telecommunications Act,
which have been under intensive discussions within Germany and between the German
authorities and the European Commission for well over a year, focus mainly on
the regulatory approach to 'emerging markets' and on consumer issues.
It is with regard to the concept of 'emerging markets' that
today's political agreement contains important modifications.
Modifications were agreed to Paragraph 9a of the Bill, which
now reads as follows:
§ 9a (Regulierung neuer
Vorbehaltlich des nachfolgenden Absatzes unterliegen neue Märkte grundsätzlich
nicht der Regulierung nach Teil 2.
(2) Wenn Tatsachen die
Annahme rechtfertigen, dass bei fehlender Regulierung die Entwicklung eines nachhaltigen
wettbewerbsorientierten Marktes im Bereich der Telekommunikationsdienste oder
-netze langfristig behindert wird, kann die Bundesnetzagentur einen neuen
Markt abweichend von Absatz 1 nach den Bestimmungen der §§ 9, 10, 11 und 12 der
Regulierung nach Teil 2 unterwerfen. Bei der Prüfung der Regulierungsbedürftigkeit und
der Auferlegung von Maßnahmen berücksichtigt die Bundesnetzagentur
insbesondere das Ziel der Förderung von effizienten Infrastrukturinvestitionen
und die Unterstützung von Innovationen.
A new Paragraph (Paragraph 3, Nr. 12b) was also agreed and
contains the definition of 'new markets':
§ 3 Nr. 12b – neu (Definition "neuer Markt"):
"ein Markt für Dienste oder Produkte, die sich von den bislang vorhandenen
Diensten oder Produkten hinsichtlich der Leistungsfähigkeit, Reichweite,
Verfügbarkeit für größere Benutzerkreise (Massenmarktfähigkeit), des Preises
oder der Qualität aus Sicht eines verständigen Nachfragers nicht nur
unerheblich unterscheiden und diese nicht lediglich ersetzen".
The modifications have as a consequence that emerging markets are now more explicitly
excluded from regulation (the new point 1 of Paragraph 9a affirms that: "in principle, new markets
markets are not regulated" (economic regulation)).
IF there are facts that justify the assumption that,
without regulatory intervention, (this is now stated explicitly) the development
of a sustainable competition-oriented market for telecommunications services or
networks would be hampered in the long-term, the Regulatory Authority can
regulate according to Paragraphs 9, 10, 11 and 12 of the Telecommunications
T-REGS Note: The previous draft approved by the Federal Government
only contained a reference to regulation according to Paragraph 10, which
pertains to market definition, whereas in the text that has now been agreed, potential regulation also refers to
the market analysis (§ 11) and the consultation and consolidation procedures (§
12) and the basic principles stipulated in Paragraph 9.
With regard to the verification as to whether a market
should be regulated and concerning the regulatory remedies that can be imposed,
the text makes no reference to the principle of proportionality. The
only criteria are now promotion efficient infrastructure investment and the
support of innovation.
The definition of 'new markets', which is new in the text adopted today, is as follows:
"A market for new services or products, which differ in a non-insignificant
way with regard to their performance, reach, availability to larger user groups
(capability to sell to mass market), price or quality, from the perspective of
an intelligent customer and which are not a mere substitute thereof."
T-REGS Note: This new definition focuses on services (rather
than on the underlying infrastructure), which addresses what was a key issue for the European Commission, but the new definition inserts new elements as well, which will be the subject of substantial debate going forward.
For a discussion of this important development, please
contact Alexa Veller.