eco on the German Telecommunications Act: “Federal Government Jeopardising 5G Roll-out”

The German Telecommunications Act (TKG) is to be fundamentally reformed within this legislative term, with a view to aligning it with the European Code for Electronic Communications. To this end, the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) have now published an updated version of their joint draft act. eco – Association of the Internet Industry denounces the overall chaotic legislative process which is occurring at the expense of content-related diligence and appropriate consultation with associations. In particular, the eco Association criticizes the fact that the amended act will create a new class of protection that will essentially place service providers under an increased level of risk via the security catalogue of the German Federal Network Agency (BNetzA). In the association’s view, the German federal government is thus jeopardising the speedy roll-out of 5G in Germany.

“Far too many telecommunications companies are being subjected to particularly stringent blanket security requirements, without differentiating between actual circumstances – this is disproportionate and unacceptable,” says Klaus Landefeld, eco Board Member for Infrastructure & Networks. Until now, it was only 5G mobile network operators who could be regarded as companies with increased risk potential in the telecommunications sector.

Landefeld fears that the roll-out of the 5G network will be further delayed due to the newly introduced, politically motivated decisions. Because in addition to the German Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) and the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), the German Federal Foreign Office will also have to decide by mutual agreement which manufacturers will be involved in the roll-out. “In order to finally move ahead with the 5G roll-out, the companies involved need legal and planning certainty – unfortunately, the new Telecommunications Act does not provide any clarity regarding the ministries’ responsibilities. Improvements are urgently needed here so that we do not fall even further behind in the international field,” Landefeld continued.

Going back to the previous draft in November of this year, the eco association had also criticised the short feedback period and lack of coordination between the BMWi, BMVI, BMI and the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV). Now, the two lead ministries have followed up by giving only 48 hours to react to the updated draft bill of 9 December. eco has published an official German-language statement on the discussion draft of the BMWi and BMVI of 6 November as well as supplementary comments on the updated draft of 11 December.

The TKG amendment will not only affect telecommunications and the expansion of gigabit networks, but Germany’s entire digital transformation. “I’ve seldom witnessed such a chaotic process,” says Landefeld. “It would have been far better for everyone involved if the Federal Chancellor had made use of her directive powers some time ago.” This would have decisively accelerated the legislative process and also allowed for appropriate participation of all those affected.


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