Telekom warns of “national roaming” mobile expansion barrier

Telekom warns of 'national roaming' mobile expansion barrier

Germany’s mobile expansion could be slowed considerably by a change in the law, according to telekom boss tim hottges.

At his company’s annual general meeting in bonn on thursday, the manager warned federal policymakers against clearly anchoring roaming obligations in law.

"If the legislature were to pass a "national roaming" bill" or introduces local roaming, i predict the end of the country’s mobile coverage expansion," hottges told a good 2000 shareholders. According to him, investments in new masts were devalued when telekom had to open its antennas to the competition.

Auction of mobile communications frequencies for the new 5G standard currently underway. In addition to telekom, the other two german network operators, vodafone and telefonica (O2), are also taking part in the auction conducted by the federal network agency.

In addition, a newcomer joins in – drillisch from the united internet group does not yet have its own network, but wants to build one. But the company gets exceptions and could benefit from possible roaming obligations – then drillisch customers were not in the radio hole even where their contract partner has no masts, after all, they were connected there with the network of telekom or other operators.

From hottges’ point of view, this would be an economic nightmare. "It can […It can’t be that some don’t invest or invest little and then access the infrastructure of us," he said. "Someone is building this infrastructure – the antennas cost 212.000 euro – and then another says "now you’ve built your antenna, i’d like to share it and i’ll pay you when i have a talk, the talk"."

According to the manager, his company would then be left with the bulk of the costs. At the same time, according to telekom, this would remove a unique selling proposition and a key selling point for customers, namely that flat coverage is good.

Hottges has long railed against regulations that he sees as excessive and a brake on growth. This time, he directs his criticism at leading politicians from the union and SPD parliamentary groups who are pushing for local roaming – i.E., the obligation to open up the network in remote areas. Local roaming may therefore be clearly anchored in the comprehensive amendment to the telecommunications act in the fall. So far, it is already indicated in the law as a reference to an EU code, but not yet clearly formulated.

Among the politicians pushing for mandatory local roaming is soren bartol, vice chairman of the SPD’s parliamentary group in the bundestag. The felt misunderstood. "No one has an interest in bringing the expansion of the mobile communications network to a standstill," he said in berlin. "In areas where only one provider is expanding, however, the customers of the other companies must also be able to make calls with their cell phone."The arrangement of local roaming or the joint use of cell towers could help. There has to be "a proper reward for the company that builds the infrastructure," bartol said.

According to its own figures, deutsche telekom currently has around 29,000 antenna sites in germany. The roll-out obligations set out in the 5G auction are considered relatively tough. At the annual general meeting, shareholders questioned whether this was financially feasible. Massive investments had to be made to meet the requirements, said stefan ten doornkaat of the schutzgemeinschaft der kapitalanleger (association for the protection of investors). "That’s a lot of wood – they have to earn the money first so they can spend it."

Thomas deser of union investment said it could "soon become uncomfortable" for telekom in germany. One reason: the planned entry of united internet (drillisch) as a network operator. "This added another network operator to vodafone and o2, which was allowed to put additional pressure on prices," said deser. That would be a "clear sharpening of competition. Telekom boss hottges, however, remained calm – his company would be the least affected of the three current network operators, and the effects would be felt above all by telefonica.