President Homann reflects on the results: “Guidelines make new consumer rights enforceable”
Today the Federal Network Agency published a decree of general application on price reduction regulations for fixed network internet access services. The guidelines come into effect on 13 December 2021. An updated version of the measurement tool is being released on the same day.
“Our guidelines help consumers to exercise their new rights. Consumers can use our measurement tool to prove reduced performance with legal certainty and with reasonable effort,” says Jocheim Homann, president of the Federal Network Agency.
Prerequisites for a price reduction
The regulations of the decree of general application provide that the consumer carries out a total of 30 measurements on three different calendar days as proof of reduced performance. In doing so, each measurement day must be separated by at least one calendar day and the measurements must be spread across the measurement day.
For the assumption of a discrepancy from the minimum speed entitling a price reduction, it suffices if the measured speed is less than the minimum speed on two of the three measurement days. With respect to the maximum speed, reduced performance exists if the speed measured on two of the three measurement days never once reaches 90 per cent of the maximum. A discrepancy exists if the speed of 90 per cent of the measurements fails to reach the normally available speed.
The Federal Network Agency has issued a brochure with specific guidelines on how use its verification tool to gather proof of such discrepancies.
Desktop app as a verification tool
On the day the decree of general application comes into effect on 13 December 2021, the Federal Network Agency is also releasing an updated version of its measurement tool (broadband measurement desktop app) as a monitoring mechanism at www.breitbandmessung.de. The app defines the regulations applying to measurements used as proof of reduced performance. Consumers only then need to carry out the measurements in compliance with the instructions.
From 13 December 2021, consumers can use the new app to justify their claim to a price reduction from their provider or to terminate their contract without notice in line with the new statutory regulations.
Consultation on the decree of general application
Drafts of the decree and brochure were released by the Federal Network Agency for consultation in September 2021. These provided for a verification method comprising 20 measurements on two calendar days and are based on an informal announcement from the Federal Network Agency in 2017.
Diverse comments about both draft documents have been received. These include joint comments from telecommunication associations, a comment from the Federation of German Consumer Organisations as well as comments from individual companies.
The decree published today is, in the opinion of the Federal Network Agency, a necessary adaptation of the drafts, that enables consumers in particular to gather legally conclusive proof of recurrent discrepancies. It aims to establish a reliable general framework that allows consumers to exercise their new rights to a price reduction.
Background to the right to a price reduction
The German Telecommunications Act embodies new consumer rights. It grants consumers the right to reduce the contractually agreed payment or terminate the contract without notice. This is possible if there is a significant, continuous or regularly recurring discrepancy between the actual speed of the internet access services and the speed specified by the provider. The decree of general application published by the Federal Network Agency today stipulates when such a discrepancy exists in the fixed network.
The decree of general application and the brochure as well as other information can be found on the Federal Network Agency website at www.bundesnetzagentur.de/breitbandgeschwindigkeiten. Comments received during the consultation procedure are also published here.