It is a sad premiere: For the first time, the Federal Network Agency has initiated fine proceedings against established mobile communications companies because, as it is said, they have missed their network expansion goals. Specifically, it concerns 500 rural areas where the cell phone network has so far only offered citizens slow internet. The Pursue would have had to set up more antennas here by December 2022 so that customers could surf at 4G speeds, with a data speed of at least 100 megabits per second. But in a few cases the companies failed to comply with the requirements. In addition, there is still no good network in some federal road tunnels – the Bonn supervisory authority also criticizes this.
Therefore, she directed Federal Network Agency already in September filed fine proceedings against Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone Deutschland and the O2 provider Telefónica. The companies can now comment on this. The authority is also threatening the companies with further fines if the grievances are not remedied by the middle of next year. The fact that these procedures are ongoing can be seen from a letter from Federal Network Agency President Klaus Müller to the authority’s advisory board. The chairman of this political body is the Lower Saxony Economics Minister Olaf Lies (SPD). The South German newspaper The 65-page document is available.
The expansion goals date from 2019, when the three companies were awarded radio frequencies. The requirements included closing so-called 4G radio holes by the end of 2022. Corporations are only exempt from this obligation if it is virtually impossible to build new antennas in a certain region. For example, because no property owner allows construction or permits take forever. Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica and Vodafone Germany announced on Monday that they had set up antennas everywhere they could. A Vodafone spokesman said the company had built more than 3,000 new cell phone masts in the past four years. Vodafone met its expansion goals “if it was legally and factually possible for us.” “We are currently in close contact with the Federal Network Agency regarding the last outstanding assessments, which only concern individual cell phone locations,” the spokesman added.
However, the Federal Network Agency sees failures on the part of the companies in some cases and has therefore opened proceedings. But since there are only a few violations, the fines would probably be low. The authority will decide next year whether it will really ask the corporations to pay.
Regardless of this, fine proceedings against the newcomer 1&1 have been running since spring. The subsidiary of United Internet bought frequencies for the first time in 2019 – under the condition that at least 1,000 5G antennas would be installed by the end of 2022. But only five were built. The company blames the radio tower operator Vantage Towers for the debacle: Promises not fulfilled and 1&1 provided too few locations. Ironically, the majority of Vantage Towers belongs to mobile communications rival Vodafone. Therefore, 1&1 complained to the Federal Cartel Office. The Bonn authorities are now checkingwhether Vantage Towers may have favored the parent company over the newcomer 1&1 and thus hindered competition.