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German Antitrust Regulator Supports New Entrant In Local Mobile Market

The German regulator also urged existing carriers to open up network infrastructure to MVNOs

Germany’s antitrust regulator called for a fourth mobile carrier to enter the domestic market when 5G licenses are auctioned in 2019, Reuters reported.

The Federal Cartel Office’s head Andreas Mundt suggested that market concentration has left Germany’s economy lagging its rivals in the race to build connected factories or put self-driving cars on the road.

“It would be desirable for competition on the mobile market if the [5G] auction enabled the entry of a fourth network operator,” Mundt said in a statement.

Mundt also called for existing mobile carriers to open up their networks on a non-discriminatory basis to third parties such as service providers and virtual mobile network operators (MVNOs).

The three existing operators – Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefonica Deutschland – have pushed back against calls for auction terms that would lower barriers to entry.

Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefonica Deutschland have argued that an auction bidding war would leave them with less financial resources to invest in their networks.

They also said that allowing network access to other operators and MVNOs would put them at a further disadvantage as these firms will not have to invest significant resources in network infrastructure.

“Until now, Deutschland, Vodafone and Telefónica Deutschland 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,” European MVNO association MVNO Europe said in a statement.

“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 prevented by these three opeators. MVNO Europe believes that the behaviour of incumbent German operators runs counter to enabling competition and innovation. This is therefore detrimental to consumers’ interests as well as businesses of all sizes.”

In May, Germany’s Federal Network Regulator (BNetzA) said it plans to auction spectrum in the 2 GHz and 3.6 GHz frequency bands for the provision of 5G services.

According to the regulator, the 5G spectrum auction will begin in the first months of next year.

German operators are paving the way for the future launch of commercial 5G services.

Deutsche Telekom had recently deployed its first 5G antennas to test the technology in downtown Berlin. The antennas, which are based on 5G New Radio (5G NR), allowed Deutsche Telekom to demonstrate what it claims to be Europe’s first 5G data connection over a live network. The telco said that it is currently in process to deploy a 5G cluster in Berlin.

Claudia Nemat, Deutsche Telekom board member for technology and innovation, previously said that the carrier aims to launch 5G in 2020. During the 2018 Mobile World Congress, Nemat told reporters that Deutsche Telekom was on track to launch 5G commercial trials in Europe during 2018.

In February, Nokia and Telefónica Germany signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a joint 5G innovation cluster in Munich. The two companies also said the cluster will be followed by trials in the operator’s live network, currently planned with priority in Berlin with the objective of building a benchmark network with 4.5G, 4.9G and 5G technology.

Also, Vodafone Germany has recently opened a 5G testing lab in Dusseldorf. Its 5G Testing Area will determine whether devices like upcoming smartphones, tablets and IoT sensors are compatible with 5G and with Vodafone’s own 5G network under various conditions. – Rcr Wireless

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