German associations call for improvements to broadband expansion law

German fibre-network industry association Buglas and telecommunications industry group VATM claim that the country’s Digital Networks Bill (DigiNetzG) will not succeed in its aim of accelerating the roll-out of high-speed broadband networks in Germany and called for improvements to the law during a joint conference on the DigitNetzG in Cologne on 28 November.

In its current form, the law’s regulations on the joint laying and joint usage of cables are not designed to encourage a higher expansion rate of coverage, but instead lead to increased risks for the first company to invest in upgrades, according to the conference participants.

While open-access fibre networks can deliver advantages to customers and firms, providers might find it unprofitable to expand them if the DigiNetzG allows the network to be overbuilt, said the heads of the VATM and Buglas. Instead of building over these networks, they should be used at their optimum capacity, they added.

Participants also criticized that the law grants Germany’s Federal Network Agency little leeway to prevent economically adverse “superstructures” from being built as a result of cables and infrastructure being laid at the same time. 

Buglas and VATM called for the DigitNetzG to be amended so it can achieve its actual aims and for the Federal Network Agency’s decision-making powers to be further developed so that a more fair balance of interests can be found in the joint deployment and uysage of infrastructure.

The Digital Networks Bill was passed in the summer of 2016 as part of the German government’s wider plan to provide nationwide broadband access of at least 50 Mbps by 2018. The law aimed to accelerate and reduce the costs of the broadband roll-out in Germany by calling for operators to simultaneously lay passive network infrastructure and fibre-optic cables and utilize existing passive infrastructure.

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