Home & Office

German government 'should sell Deutsche Telekom stake', watchdog says

Net neutrality regulations also "not recommended" by Monopolies Commission report.
Written by Michael Filtz, Contributor

According to a report issued this week by the Monopolies Commission, an independent advisory commission in Germany, the country's federal government should sell its remaining stakes in incumbent telco Deutsche Telekom.

"From a regulatory standpoint, and because of possible conflicts of interest arising from the simultaneous role as owner and regulator, it is necessary that the federal government resolves its direct and indirect stake in Deutsche Telekom," the report says, adding that the "proceeds from privatisation could be used for funding broadband expansion".

The government currently owns about 32 percent of the company, which has been on the road to privatisation since the 1990s.

During this time, the telco and the government have navigated an often complex web of regulatory and legal issues, as Deutsche Telekom began opening up its network infrastructure for use by competitors. Indeed, the report commended Germany's network regulation agency in facilitating this transition: the agency "has paved the way for a rapid, comprehensive and largely legally secure network expansion and prevented a technology monopoly of Deutsche Telekom at the so-called last mile."

A Deutsche Telekom spokesperson said that "the decision on the future of federal investments rests solely with the federal government," and added that "in the past, the federal government has repeatedly separated blocks of shares," rather than divesting completely.

Net neutrality rules "not recommended"

In this week's report, the commission also weighed-in on network neutrality, the idea that all internet traffic should be treated equally, at a time when some ISPs are considering implementing measures to the contrary.

"The adoption of a national net neutrality regulation is not recommended at this point in time," the report says. Instead, it argues for a broader interpretation which would allow for varying treatment and pricing of different forms of internet traffic "based on objective criteria and not handled discriminatorily," the report said.

Editorial standards