eco Urges the Coalition Partners to Adopt a Measured Approach to Market-Driven, Technology-Neutral Broadband Expansion

Within the framework of the coalition negotiations for a new German federal government, eco – Association of the Internet Industry calls on the negotiating parties to exercise measured judgment when it comes to the topic of expanding broadband coverage. The association welcomes the declared commitment of the negotiating parties to the rigorous promotion of the Gigabit Society. This reflects a demand which has also been stipulated in eco's Internet Policy Agenda, with the Association of the Internet Industry regarding nationwide broadband expansion in Germany as the most important infrastructure project for the coming years. Broadband Internet creates the basis for innovation and modern services and will ensure the future viability and attractiveness of Germany as an industry location.

From an economic and efficiency perspective, effective broadband expansion can best be achieved by means of a market-driven competitive strategy. At the same time, eco contends that the expansion of broadband Internet in Germany must also be bolstered with targeted funding measures in order to ensure dynamic and rapid development.

Funding measures should be targeted at areas where expansion propelled solely by the market is not tenable. A universal statutory “expansion obligation” would not necessarily help in such instances and would also carry the risk of bringing more inefficiency into market-driven expansion – which could in turn overtax small and medium-sized enterprises in particular. The technological neutrality of the new Gigabit networks, coupled with high performance and bandwidth, must be at the heart of competition-driven broadband expansion.

Those currently deliberating on universal expansion obligations must appreciate that these obligations do not represent a panacea, and that such an approach must be viewed with caution. The German Federal Network Agency has also classified such a precept as harmful to competition and criticized it accordingly in its annual report. The goal of the Gigabit Society cannot be achieved in isolation by means of a universal statutory expansion obligation, but only by means of a completely new, balanced, and consistent regulatory framework that must be competitive and fair.