Competitive Deficits Found in German Mobile Communications Market

Study: "Significant competitive deficits" in the German mobile communications market

The retail market for mobile communications services is dominated by the three established mobile network operators Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom and Telefónica, according to a study by SBR-net Consulting. The study, which was undertaken for the Federal Association of Broadband Communication (Breko) and 1&1, found that alternative landline operators were unable to provide competitive bundled offers, and that sales partners of the top mobile network operators only gave the impression of independent competition.

The study noted that there are currently only two major mobile phone discounters that are able to “provide services with a somewhat greater degree of economic added value”, 1&1 and Freenet. 1&1 is currently preparing to become the fourth network operator, but the authors of the study found that competition with 5G was sealed off “particularly restrictively”, with alternative providers prevented from further climbing the investment ladder.

The share of the three operators with the fast new network technology is above their quota in the overall market, effectively preventing alternative providers from effectively designing end customer products themselves. The study suggested that the Federal Network Agency should increase the “opportunities for an improved offer of mobile wholesale services” to increase the number of players in the market.

Regional fibre optic providers require “appropriate mobile services in advance in order to compete on an equal footing and to be able to refinance their own investments,” according to the study. More than half of the 132 fibre optic network operators surveyed for the report would be interested in purchasing wholesale mobile services.

The study suggested that 1&1 should be given the option of expanding its frequency portfolio in forthcoming frequency award to help it set up a nationwide network. The authors also recommended non-discriminatory national roaming as the basis for 1&1’s nationwide offers and their further marketing.

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