Measures to protect Deutsche Telekom’s high-speed internet service from competition were driven through by Germany’s parliament on Friday, setting up a legal clash with Brussels.
The Bundesrat, or upper house, passed a bill designed to protect a €3bn investment by the partly state-owned Deutsche Telekom into ultra-fast internet lines.
Angela Merkel, German chancellor, had pledged on taking office last year to change national rules governing telecommunications regulation in return for the telecoms company’s promise to link 50 cities to its high-speed network by the end of 2008.
However, the European Commission is preparing a legal challenge to Germany’s amended telecoms act, a Commission spokesman told the Financial Times.
“This is a bad signal for legal certainty and investment on the German broadband market. We now expect several legal disputes at European and national level,” the spokesman said.
A legal spat could now embarrassingly occupy Europe’s most senior judges just as the German government takes on the EU’s rotating presidency during the first half of next year.
Deutsche Telekom rolled out its first VDSL services in November.
The bill passed on Friday means telecoms groups investing in new networks will be protected from rival operators, provided the national telecoms regulator deems this does not stifle competition in the long term.
However, Viviane Reding, EU telecoms commissioner, argues that allowing Deutsche Telekom to restrict access to its network breaches EU rules.
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