Broadband expansion: The federal government wants to anchor the gigabit land register in the TKG
The Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV) wants to accelerate broadband expansion in Germany with some changes to the Telecommunications Act (TKG). On Monday, the ministry presented a draft of a “Law to Accelerate the Expansion of Telecommunications Networks” with which the changes are to be implemented.
This “TK Network Expansion Acceleration Act” is intended to create the legal basis for the federal government’s gigabit strategy measures. The focus is on the legal support of the gigabit land register launched by the BMDV at the end of last year.
All data in one “land register”
The existing data about the telecommunications infrastructure is to be summarized in the gigabit land register. The information from the previously separate services broadband atlas, dead zone map and bandwidth measurement comes together on the platform operated by the Federal Network Agency.
In addition, the Network Expansion Acceleration Act aims to reduce bureaucracy. In particular, approval procedures should be simplified and accelerated. Minor construction work on the infrastructure should therefore be able to be carried out without approval.
The Federal Association of Broadband Communications (Breko) welcomes this in principle, but would like clearer criteria. “Construction measures that do not require approval should not be defined solely based on their duration and the criteria for certain measures such as the so-called house stitch and the connection of a small number of buildings should be expanded,” said an association spokesman.
According to the proposed law, the operator of a house network should be able to charge a service provider a connection fee of 60 euros if the service provider is to be connected to individual connections in the house. In addition to the existing option of passing on the house connection costs to the rent, this should reduce the cost pressure on the expanding network operators.
“This is disappointing”
This is generally welcomed by network operators, but does not go far enough for industry representatives. “The draft law contains fewer improvements to the framework conditions for network expansion than hoped. That is disappointing,” says Andrea Huber from the Anga cable network operators association. She speaks of “many missed opportunities”, but at the same time attests that the BMDV paper contains “some very sensible suggestions”.
Anga still sees “many question marks” regarding the specific design of the gigabit land register. The “duties and rights of companies” do not arise from the legal text, but only from later, separate legal regulations. “This leaves questions open, particularly regarding the security of the sometimes highly sensitive company data, and important regulations are removed from the legislature’s decision,” criticizes Huber.
As a step in the right direction, Breko welcomes the fact that the expansion of telecommunications networks should be classified as “public interest” in the law. “In order to adequately emphasize the importance of fiber optic expansion, fiber optic expansion should be defined as an infrastructure measure in the overriding public interest, analogous to the expansion of renewable energies,” says a spokesman.
In addition to broadband expansion, the BMDV also wants to use the amending law to transfer new requirements of the extended EU rules on mobile phone roaming into German law. The EU extended the Union-wide roaming regulation by ten years in the summer of 2022 and, among other things, expanded it to include 5G networks.
With changes to the TKG, the Federal Network Agency as a regulatory authority should be given the necessary competencies to implement the guidelines for wholesale prices between network operators.
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