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German cable operators slam open market plan for modems

kabel deutschland

Kabel Deutschland

German cable operators have joined forces to reject a move by the Federal government to ban operators from forcing subscribers to take a router supplied by their service provider rather than buy a device of their choice on the open market. 

Following the tabling of a draft bill by the German economy ministry in February that called for the right of internet customers to choose their own routers to be enshrined in law, cable operators have banded together to argue that routers should be considered as part of the network infrastructure they provide. The operators argue that they should be allowed to decide on which cable modem subscribers take. Other operators have also expressed disquiet.

Vodafone and its cable unit Kabel Deutschland have said the law should take into account the particular technology structures of cable networks and recognize the cable modem as part of that network.

In a joint submission dated February 20 but now made public, Vodafone and Kabel Deutschland said such a move would be “without precedent” and is contrary to European telecom rules. They said the proposals failed to take into account the shared nature of the last-mile cable network and failed to address key issues.

Liberty Global-owned Unitymedia KabelBW have said that allowing users to select their own routers could cause problems for subscribers in the same node group, leading to a deterioration of service and an increase in cost.

Consumer group the Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband has expressed support for the proposals, on the other hand, arguing that network operators should be obliged to support equipment that meets certain technical specifications.