Deutsche Telekom tweaks plan to bring in broadband data caps, throttling in 2016

Deutsche Telekom tweaks plan to bring in broadband data caps, throttling in 2016

Summary: Proposed data limits from Deutsche Telekom won't apply to company's own internet services, setting the stage for potential net neutrality disputes.

TOPICS: Networking, Broadband, EU

Deutsche Telekom, Germany's largest telco, has adjusted its plan to introduce the country's first bandwidth limits on broadband packages, offering slightly higher speeds to customers that find their connections throttled.

Starting in 2016, the company plans to limit home broadband customers to a rate of 2Mbps after they have reached specific data limits, which start at 75GB for basic internet packages. When it debuted the plans last month, the telco had planned on throttling the speeds to 384Kbps, but increased the rates to 2Mbps last week in response to criticism from customers.

According to Deutsche Telekom, the new limits are due to an unsustainable growth in data usage, which is set to quadruple by 2016. "Continually higher bandwidth can't be financed with ever-lower prices," the company said.

According to the telco, most users will not be affected by the limits, since "on average, a customer today uses 15GB to 20GB" per month. Customers will be able to purchase upgrades if they do reach the limits (although the telco has not said what the fees for the upgrades will be.)

The plan is controversial because the bandwidth limits will not apply to Deutsche Telekom's own IPTV and voice services, potentially violating net neutrality principles.

German regulators have already expressed concern that Deutsche Telekom may begin charging other content providers for exemption from the limits: Andreas Mundt, the president of Germany's Bundeskartellamt (the federal competition regulation agency) recently told the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: "If Deutsche Telekom wants to allow content providers to buy their way out of data throttling, this may have consequences for competition."

The Bundeskarellamt has not taken any regulatory action so far, but has requested that Deutsche Telekom clarify its plans for implementing the limits. Even so, the proposed data caps have already provoked a backlash among German consumers. Already, almost 200,000 people have signed a petition that calls for Deutsche Telekom to reconsider its plans to introduce the limits.

Germany's other main broadband providers — including 1and1 and Vodafone —have not announced any plans to implement such limits in the future. Deutsche Telekom operates about 45 percent of the country's broadband connections.

With the proposed bandwidth limits, Deutsche Telekom might be on course for a showdown with the European Commission, which has recently put forward plans to outlaw online throttling by 2015.

Topics: Networking, Broadband, EU

Michael Filtz

About Michael Filtz

From the day he brought home a modem and dialed in to a local BBS in 1991, Michael has been obsessed with technology and how it enables collaboration. He has a master's degree in journalism from UC Berkeley, and has worked in and around the technology start-up scenes in San Francisco and Berlin.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Welcome to monopoly power.

    "Deutsche Telekom, Germany's largest telco"

    They're very much a monopoly in that country. Welcome to what happens when a business has monopoly power.

    "Deutsche Telekom operates about 45 percent of the country's broadband connections."

    That number seems low. I know in southern Germany, it's pretty much all Telekom.

    Maybe it's regional, like the USA?

    "'Continually higher bandwidth can't be financed with ever-lower prices,' the company said in a statement."

    So raise the prices and work on improving the infrastructure.
  • UK Unlimited

    Thankfully in the UK, it's going the other way with data caps, throttling and traffic management being discontinued by most ISP's.
  • ouch!

    sorry to hear it, Germany. my condolences.
  • Data caps are bad...

    More and more data hungry things are on the web. Things such as instructional video, news, sharing home videos with friends and family, financial sites have videos, TV shows, the list goes on. One can easily go over DTs data limit. Throttling is not good, what about folks that have medical issues that are handled over the web, security system that are web monitored, again the list goes on. DT improve your capacity to handle those data hungry features as online data is going to explode and we the people will not be able to tolerate throttling. Internet data is all too important in todays world and becoming more important as time moves on.
  • Sounds bad, but...

    I'm in Germany now but I come from Canada, I have to say it's still a hell of a lot better here in terms of Internet. It's a step backwards, let's hope it doesn't happen but Germany is still better than quite a few places.