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EU renews pressure on German telecoms regulator over ‘detrimental’ tariffs

Germany’s telecoms regulator has been accused of “flying in the face” of the EU’s internal market, after failing to respond to repeated requests by the European Commission to lower tariffs for mobile phone calls.

The European Commission said it had now made five requests to Germany’s Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA) to amend or withdraw plans to charge mobile termination rates (MTRs) “of up to 80% higher than in most other EU member states” for German-based telecoms provider sipgate Wireless GmbH.

MTRs are the wholesale fees telecoms networks charge each other to deliver calls between networks. Each operator has market power over access to customers on its own network.

However, the Commission said BNetzA’s proposed MTRs for sipgate, a “new operator on the German market”, would “set Germany apart” from other EU states.

Commission vice-president responsible for the EU’s Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes said: “I am very concerned by the fact that Germany continues to ignore the reasonable demands of the Commission... Its approach towards MTRs flies in the face of the internal market and is detrimental to consumers.”

The Commission launched an investigation last May after BNetzA “failed to provide justified reasons... as to why it should be granted special treatment and be exempt from following the method calculating MTRs set out in EU telecoms rules.

The Commission said its call for the MTRs to be amended or withdrawn is supported by the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC). The Commission said it will take “appropriate legal steps” if BNetzA does not comply.

EU telecoms rules require member states to promote competition and the interests of consumers in the EU, as well as the development of the single market. Article 7 of the Telecoms Framework Directive requires national telecoms regulators to notify the Commission, BEREC and telecoms regulators in other EU countries, of “measures they plan to introduce to solve market problems”.

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