Brussels, 22 November 2018 – Following the publication of the draft ‘5G’ spectrum auction terms by the German Federal Network Agency (‘the BNetzA’), MVNO Europe calls on the German regulator to impose wholesale network access requirements on radio spectrum licensees. In addition, we ask the BNetzA to further detail the internal-external non-discrimination principle it puts forward, and to ensure that it unambiguously has full power to intervene, notably in cases of clear discrimination between mobile networks’ own businesses and other services providers.

While regretting the lacking provisions making third service providers’ – and more particularly Mobile Virtual Network Operators (hereafter ‘MVNOs’) – access to future 2 GHz and 3,6 GHz networks mandatory, MVNO Europe welcomes the progress made by the BNetzA on the obligations for Mobile Network Operators (hereafter ‘MNOs’) to cooperate in the development of a modern infrastructure. More specifically, MVNO Europe lauds the new negotiation requirements MNOs will have to comply with when it comes to service provider access, national roaming and infrastructure sharing. Similarly, MVNO Europe welcomes the BNetzA’s ability to arbitrate disputes and – where necessary – impose fines on operators infringing the non-discrimination principle.

The obligation for MNOs to cooperate in the expansion of 5G networks in Germany and BNetzA’s new capabilities can contribute to ensuring that German mobile operators do not obstruct competition and innovation. Obstruction to economic developments will be avoided only if the concept of internal-external non-discrimination is further clarified in the licence terms (e.g. by including the definition of the Advisory Council in Recital 499) and if BNetzA’s related fines and sanctions are readily applied. It is imperative that BNetzA unambiguously has full power to intervene on both technical and commercial aspects of wholesale network access.

Until now, the three incumbent German MNOs have made clear they have no intention of enabling non-discriminatory wholesale access to their networks, or to support industrial and Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystems. Many MVNOs, as well as industrial companies, willing to develop 5G networks and services, see their commercial and innovation potential curtailed, due to that fact that fit-for-purpose wholesale access to 4G is hampered by these MNOs. MVNO Europe believes that behaviour is detrimental not only to consumers’ interests but also to businesses of all sizes. Therefore, MVNO Europe hopes to mitigate the replication of such a situation with the development of 5G.

Jacques Bonifay, Chairman of MVNO Europe underlined that “fair and non-discriminatory access to 5G technologies for small operators and MVNOs is the only way to further advance German industrial and consumer interests. This is essential for boosting innovation and competition on both telecom consumer and business markets”.