EC urges German regulator to lower mobile tariffs for the fifth time

The European Commission (EC) has asked the German telecoms regulator Bundesnetzagentur (BNetza) to amend or withdraw its proposal on mobile termination rates (MTRs), saying it is the fifth time it has had to intervene in the regulator’s pricing model.

This comes as BNetza proposed MTRs for Sipgate Wireless 80% higher than in most EU countries. MTRs are the rates telco network providers charge each other to deliver calls between networks, and each operator oversees access to its own network.

The EC argues ultimately any increase in MTRs will lead to added costs to customers. “I am very concerned by the fact that Germany continues to ignore the reasonable demands of the European Commission – setting it apart from all other Member States,” the outgoing EC VP Neelie Kroes said. “Its approach towards mobile termination rates flies in the face of the internal market, and is detrimental to consumers.”

The EC first initiated investigation into the matter in May, following BNetza ignoring its April recommendation to amend or withdraw the measure under which it imposed the MTRs for Sipgate. Even these events followed earlier calls the German antitrust body should lower prices. According to the EC, the German regulator has failed to provide legitimate reasons why it should be made exempt from the commission’s pricing framework.

“The German rules on MTRs must be in line with the EC recommendation,” an EC statement in the matter read. “Should BNetza continue its approach and fail to comply with the Commission’s recommendation, the Commission will undertake appropriate legal steps.”

This is not the first time BNetza and the EC have clashed. But considering the EC used almost identical rhetoric as the above against BNetza already in June 2013, it appears as though its efforts have been toothless. BNetza has been notified by the EC of concerns over pricing policy and failure to notify the EC of MTRs as early as 2006. Other past disputes have included the EC’s refusal to let the German authority review the proposal for the acquisition of E-Plus by Telefonica Deutschland earlier this year. The saga is set to continue.

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