Right to “fast” Internet: consumer advocates want 30 Mbit/s

The Federal Association of Consumer Centers (vzbv) has lowered its expectations of the new right to “fast” Internet and considers a minimum bandwidth of 30 Mbit/s to be a “compromise that consumers can cope with”. Originally, the consumer advocates had spoken out in favor of at least 50 Mbit/s. The Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) has meanwhile piled even deeper.

The Federal Network Agency must specify the entitlement to the expanded universal service, which is linked to the amendment to the Telecommunications Act (TKG) that came into force at the beginning of December, in a statutory ordinance by June 1st. In December, the authority presented a proposal that provides for a download rate of at least 10 Mbit/s, an upload speed of at least 1.3 Mbit/s and a maximum latency of 150 milliseconds.

The regulatory authority thus fell short of the expectations of the Bundestag. The MEPs had decided that the right to fast internet should guarantee a connection that enables regular home office applications, calls and video calls as well as the possibility of using social media. According to them, this performance should initially be “achieved by a 30 Mbit product”.

According to the BNetzA, there was no reliable data on the average bandwidth actually used in this country. As a basis for the assessment, she therefore also included a survey of Internet providers according to contractually specified minimum connection speeds. However, the vzbv complained that they could set such a criterion themselves. It is therefore not surprising that the minimum bandwidth used is correspondingly low. Objective data urgently needed to be collected. The available figures should not be used as a criterion for weighing up the costs.

“The fact that several people usually live in a household and often use the Internet at the same time was not taken into account,” complains vzbv consultant Susanne Blohm. The statement by the consumer advocates states: In order to do justice to parallel use scenarios in a home and different standards in the hardware and software equipment of consumers, the download and upload speed parameters should be “at least by a factor of 2, corresponding to the average household size in Germany, to be raised”.

The vzbv also criticizes the fact that the clause inserted by the federal government in the TKG amendment, according to which the minimum bandwidth used by at least 80 percent of consumers is used as a requirement for the qualitative design of the universal service, is based on a list of criteria from the European Communications Committee (COCOM) from 2011 based. This was based on the “outdated Universal Service Directive of 2002”.

The Association of Engineers for Communication (IfKom) also considers the regulatory authority’s proposals for minimum data transmission rates to be inadequate. He is pushing for 25 MBit/s in download and 5 MBit/s in upload. Relying only on transmission values ​​for one-person households is unrealistic. This means that unrestricted social and economic participation by consumers is not possible.

The previous vzbv board member Klaus Müller, who is changing to the head of the regulatory authority, has always advocated that it “urgently set an ambitious minimum bandwidth in the planned statutory ordinance”. The association of Deutsche Telekom’s competitors, VATM, recently appealed to him in his new position “not to focus on discussions about a minimum supply of broadband for the population and the question of a few megabits more or less”. More important is “the fastest possible supply with gigabit” in fair competition.

The right to a fast network is generally repugnant to network operator associations. According to them, this should be achieved primarily through self-sufficient expansion and additional state support measures. They consider the BNetzA proposal to be appropriate in principle.


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