Advisory Board Chairman Olaf Lies (SPD) explained: “Reliable nationwide mobile phone coverage is important both for the economy and for equivalent living conditions in Germany. Germany of fundamental importance.” The Minister of Economics of Lower Saxony requested the Federal Network Agency to “examine the notable consequences for the mobile network operators concerned”. He did not rule out that “the design of future frequency allocations” could be hardened.

The Federal Network Agency wants to know why Telekom, vodafone Y Telefónica did not mount so many antennasas they were given. Also the fact that the newcomer 1 and 1 not as installed the first 1000 masts of its new 5G networkthe authorities do not just want to approve it.

If it is their fault, the providers face fines of 50,000 euros per mast. “At some point the fun will end,” Advisory Board member Reinhard Houben (FDP) told the Handelsblatt. As stated, some advisory councils would have demanded even greater penalties. But these shouldn’t be the biggest problem.

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The next frequency allocation has been in the offing for a long time. This year, for example, the Federal Network Agency wants to award so-called area frequencies with a wide range at auction, which companies can use to further expand their networks from 2025. Until now, the plan was simply to auction the frequencies and put conditions on them. But that could change this time.

the digital politician PDF, member of the Maximilian Funke-Kaiser Advisory Board, put into play a combined auction process. “We need the auction of frequencies for areas that can be developed privately and a negative auction to close the gaps in areas that are not or are underserved,” he said. Both together allow complete network coverage. “At the same time, we need fair competition between market participants. A service provider obligation takes care of that.”

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Telekom, Telefónica, Vodafon and newcomer 1&1 missed their targets for the year.


(Photo: dpa)

Such a regulation would force network operators to also offer their 5G networks at competitive prices to third-party providers such as free net to open. So far they are only required to negotiate with interested parties. It was different with 3G or 5G. The hope lies mainly in the negative auction. Currently, the federal government is trying to eliminate the so-called “blank spots” on the mobile communications map with frequency licensing conditions and a financing program. But the financing is rarely used.

“Negative auctions” should be used as a possible way out, as is also the case in the coalition agreement of S.P.D., Greens and media FDP. Each network operator has to bid for frequencies and for expansion into non-economic areas. Whoever has the lowest subsidy requirement is awarded the contract. Obligations on service providers, such as negative bidding, would affect large incumbent providers much more than one-time fines. If only because they would set a precedent for future frequency awards.

The fear of returning to the oligopoly

Newcomer 1&1 is causing particular concern. In order to promote competition, the agency had already suggested in the upcoming auction of expiring licenses for 800-megahertz area frequencies that 900-megahertz frequencies be awarded, which actually last until 2033. They offer enough capacity for four providers. In this way, there is no risk of a potentially ruinous bidding dispute at an auction, where a bidder might drop out. The current use of the 900 megahertz frequencies for so-called GSM services is no longer as necessary as before.

However, the exchange only makes sense if there is a powerful fourth provider. 1&1 has had trouble building its wireless network so far. According to the conditions, the company must put 1,000 mobile phone antennas into operation; so far there are only five.

>>Read also: 5G network initially for home only: 1&1 reports only three active locations

Therefore, the chair of the digital committee, Tabea Rößner (Greens), even threatens the worst case scenario for the industry in view of the clearly unfulfilled requirements. “One consequence could be that given the 1&1 problems there will be no frequency swapping.” Paradoxically, 1&1 would use this, because the newcomer would prefer an auction anyway. “1&1 welcomes the retention of the auction process that has been common in Germany for many years,” she said on request.

Competitor Telefónica, however, is warned that an auction would jeopardize “the gigabit strategy of the federal government with its ambitious expansion goals.” But it’s not that far yet. It was said that this was not discussed at the advisory council meeting. However, politicians are very frustrated that companies did not comply with the requirements and that 1&1 in particular has not yet been able to stimulate competition as expected.

If the frequencies are not exchanged as proposed by the network agency, there is a risk of returning to oligopoly. The agency has two goals: on the one hand, consumers should be able to use a good mobile network. This requires companies to have sufficient funds to expand their networks. On the other hand, it wants to use the competition to guarantee cheap mobile phone rates.

More: Fiber optic expansion: Bavaria receives the most funding from the federal government

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