Germany says

Mobile operators and the telecommunications regulator in Germany continue to oppose attempts by the European Union (EU) to regulate the German mobile phone market. The opposition threatens to strain relations between the EU and its largest member.

Unlike many other EU member states, Germany has let competitive forces-not regulation-shape its mobile phone sector, Europe’s largest, with nearly 55 million customers, Matthias Kurth, president of the German telecommunication regulatory agency RegTP, said Tuesday at a conference sponsored by the agency in Bonn.

If competition is functioning and consumers are receiving attractive offers as they are in Germany, RegTP sees no need to intervene with unnecessary regulation, he said.

Kurth was commenting on the EU’s new telecom legislation, which went into effect April 2002 calling for regulation in the region’s mobile sector, in addition to its fixed-line telecommunications sector. Under the legislation, national authorities are obliged to regulate operators that have a “dominate position.”

The European Commission has been closely studying two areas it believes require regulation: fees for cross-border roaming calls and interconnection charges for fixed-line calls terminated on mobile networks. German operators are at the centre of both investigations.

The country’s four GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) operators, T-Mobile Deutschland GmbH, Vodafone D2 GmbH, E-Plus Mobilfunk GmbH & Co. KG and O2 (Germany) GmbH & Co. OHG, oppose regulation, even though the companies have clashed in the past and required the regulator to mediate.

In fact, they’re currently butting heads over the fee they want to charge customers for switching operator but retaining their phone number. T-Mobile and Vodafone, which control roughly 70 per cent of the German mobile market, are seeking between 25 euros (CDN$38) and 30 euros.

E-Plus and, in particular, O2, which have the most to gain, would like to see the fee cut at least in half.

The new telephone number service is to be introduced Nov. 1, almost four years later than planned.