Here you’ll find the latest information from the VTKE: news, publications, position papers, interesting facts and our responses to important questions.
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28 July 2021 (NL): Dutch consumers no longer obligated to choose modems offered by their provider (press release)
The word is out: The Dutch Consumer & Market Authority (ACM) has issued a new policy measure that specifies that consumers and companies in the Netherlands can now choose their own modem. The policy measure was published on July 27 2021 and will come into effect six months after its publication. This means that starting from early 2022, consumers will no longer be obligated to accept the modem offered by their Internet service provider, but will be able to choose the modem that best suits their needs. The VTKE – an alliance of European telecom equipment manufacturers – has been campaigning for years for free choice of modem and therefore welcomes this new directive.
The European Union has been in favour of free choice of modem since 2015 with Regulation 2015/2120. In 2014, Finland was the first European country to allow consumers to choose their own modem. Germany followed in 2016, and Italy in 2018. In the Netherlands, only a few network operators currently allow customers to choose which terminal device they want to use for their internet connection. This choice can still be one of the network operator’s own devices, but not necessarily. These network operators enable their customers to choose their own modem, which is very unusual in the Netherlands.
Rudi Stahl, Senior Business Development Manager at Gigaset, manufacturer of telephones and smart home products, among other things: “Providers in the Netherlands used to be able to decide which modem you as a customer got along with your subscription. And that’s rather strange, seeing as when you take out a telecom subscription, for example, you can decide for yourself which smartphone you want to use. So, why not have it be the same with modems? Providers pointed to supposed technical and security issues for not allowing free choice of modem, although these had already been extensively discussed and disproven on the basis of a study set up precisely for this purpose. Not suprisingly, the analysis of the proposed regulation come to the conclusion that: ‘On the whole, it can be stated that free choice regarding terminal devices has little effect on the functioning and security of the network.’” After the publication of this research report, things remained quiet. That was, until February 13 2019, when the State Secretary of Economic Affairs and Climate Change sent a letter to the Dutch House of Representatives about the sale of separate modems and security updates. In it, she wrote that she would leave the decision on the position of the network connection point to the ACM.
The ACM has now therefore drawn up a new policy measure, making it possible for consumers to choose their own modem. This will be received as good news by many Dutch people. A VTKE survey in March 2021 showed that almost half of the Dutch population (49 percent) considers freedom of choice of modem important. Moreover, an internet modem that provides an excellent internet connection has become essential in every household – this is particularly important now that we are working from home more than ever, which puts more pressure on our home network.
For years, the VTKE has been committed to making freedom of choice of modem a possibility, and is very pleased with this ruling. A VTKE spokesperson said: “Consumers themselves know exactly what they want when it comes to their home network, and they should always have the freedom to choose the modem that meets their needs. We are proud to see that all combined efforts have led to this result and we hope that this decision will also encourage other countries to start adapting their guidelines.”
7 April 2021 (GR): Greek regulator plans to define the Network Termination Point (NTP) / VTKE participates in public consultation
The Greek regulatory authority EETT is dealing with the definition of the Network Termination Point (NTP) and in this context published its regulatory considerations for public consultation at the beginning of March (Link). Today the consultation period ended.
VTKE, which has long campaigned for end-users to be given free choice over the terminal equipment on their (broadband) connection, also submitted a statement to EETT.
We expressly welcome the fact that EETT would like to create more clarity with regard to the regulation of the NTP. We clearly advocate a definition of the NTP at point A, because only in this manner the free choice of telecommunications terminal equipment can be fully (re)established for all access technologies (DSL, cable and fibre) in Greece.
4 September 2020 (NL): VTKE welcomes the draft Beleidsregel netwerkaansluitpunt in the Netherlands
Today, the public consultation on the draft of the “Beleidsregel netwerkansluitpunt” ended. The VTKE has long been involved in discussions on the free choice of telecommunications terminal equipment in the Netherlands and has therefore also submitted a statement to the regulatory authority ACM.
The Beleidsregel in its current form would fully restore freedom of choice of terminal equipment in the Netherlands for all access technologies (DSL, cable and fiber). We therefore expressly welcome the draft regulation and hope that it will enter into force quickly.
Why do we welcome the Beleidsregel netwerkaansluitpunt?
- End-users will once again be able to use the terminal equipment (modems, routers, telephones, alarm systems, etc.) on their broadband connection that meets their wishes and needs.
- The free choice of terminal equipment promotes innovation and technological progress and thus also the sovereignty of the telecommunications terminal equipment industry in Europe.
- Changing network providers will once again become easier.
- The free choice of terminal equipment ensures clarity when it comes to data protection and increases IT security.
- The Beleidsregel meets all the requirements of the European Code of Electronic Communications (Directive (EU) 2018/1972) and the BEREC guidelines on common approaches to the identification of the network termination point in different network topologies (BoR (20) 46).
However, in our view, there is one aspect of the Beleidsregel in particular that needs to be adapted in terms of content in order to prevent circumvention of the freedom of choice of terminal equipment:
According to ACM’s explanation of the draft regulation (“toelichting”), there are some network termination points in the fiber optic network in particular that are active and do therefore not allow free choice of terminal equipment. These connections have to be converted in order to implement a passive network termination point. According to the Beleidsregel, the costs for this should be borne by the end-user.
We are of the opinion that the ACM should make it clear that end-users only have to pay for the actual costs (!) incurred for converting an active to a passive network termination point if an existing connection has to be converted. All new (after the Beleidsregel has come into force) connections must be implemented by the network operator immediately with a passive network termination point. The end-user must not be charged for this. Otherwise, network operators would have a means of ultimately impeding the free choice of terminal equipment.
In Italy, Germany, Latvia and Cyprus, the free choice of terminal equipment has already been restored and has been very successful. The objections of the opponents of the free choice of terminal equipment which are mainly technical, have proven to be unfounded in practice. We are therefore very confident that free choice of terminal equipment will also be a success in the Netherlands.
8 July 2020 (NL): Netherlands: ACM publishes draft regulation on the definition of the network termination point
The Dutch regulatory authority ACM has published a draft of a “Beleidsregel Netwerkaansluitpunt” and is consulting on it until 4 September 2020.
With the draft regulation on the definition of the network termination point, ACM aims to clarify which part of the network is under the sovereignty of the network operator and which part belongs to the end-user.
According to ACM, the Beleidsregel is intended to make it possible for end-users to connect their own terminal equipment to the network of their telecommunications provider. In this way, ACM says it wants to ensure that end-users have more freedom of choice and to promote innovation in terminal equipment.
Links to the press information on the publication of the draft “Beleidsregel netwerkaansluitpunt” and the draft “Beleidsregel netwerkaansluitpunt” (both in Dutch)
6 March 2020 (EU): VTKE: BEREC Guidelines on the Identification of the Network Termination Point make Europe-wide freedom of choice of terminal equipment possible
The Alliance of Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Manufacturers (Verbund der Telekommunikations-Endgerätehersteller, VTKE) welcomes the fact that the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) has published its Guidelines on the Identification of the Network Termination Point.
In accordance with the guidelines, the national regulatory authorities can now define the network termination point in a legally secure and unambiguous manner at the passive socket on the wall (subscriber line).
By defining the location of the network termination point as the “socket on the wall”, end-users are able to purchase a terminal device that best meets their individual needs from a retailer and use it on whatever connection they may have.
The guidelines also deal with ‘objective technological necessities’ which could justify the network termination being located somewhere other than the ‘socket on the wall’. In this context, the VTKE notes that there are no technical reasons against free choice of terminal equipment. This has been confirmed in countries where freedom of choice of terminal equipment has already been restored and is being practiced very successfully (such as Italy or Germany).
A Europe-wide harmonization of network termination point regulation, with the aim of restoring freedom of choice of terminal equipment throughout the European Union, is now possible on the basis of the BEREC guidelines. This will lead to open and fair competition in the market for telecommunications terminal equipment and therefore an increase in innovative products from which end-users in particular will benefit.
The BEREC Guidelines on the Identification of the Network Termination Point can be found here (PDF document).
16 January 2020 (EU): VTKE participates in the consultation of the BEREC guidelines for the definition of the network termination point
The Alliance of Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Manufacturers (VTKE) recently participated in the public consultation on the draft of the “BEREC Guidelines on common approaches to the identification of the network termination point in different network topologies”.
The VTKE expressly welcomes the fact that BEREC is dealing with the definition of the network termination point. The guidelines will be decisive for the free choice of terminal equipment throughout Europe and – in the best case – will help ensure that this choice is restored in all EU member states.
However, there is also a real danger that so-called “router compulsion” will manifest itself by defining the network termination point in the wrong place, which should be avoided under any circumstances.
A summary of the opinion is available here (PDF file).
24 October 2019 (EU): Success story: free choice of terminal equipment fosters innovation and consumer empowerment
Success story: free choice of terminal equipment encourages innovation and consumer empowerment
In the interests of end users and lively competition in the telecommunications terminal equipment market, freedom of terminal equipment leads to innovation and product diversity. When it comes to the gigabit networks of the future in particular, the free choice of terminal equipment is an innovation driver.
End users in particular will therefore benefit from freedom of terminal equipment, as they will be able to choose the product that best meets their needs for performance, quality and security from a wide range of innovative, high-performance terminal equipment and use it at their connection.
The Alliance of Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Manufacturers (VTKE) is convinced that free choice of terminal equipment is a success story. Therefore, in the opinion of our Alliance, a consistent implementation or restoration of terminal freedom is required for all access technologies.
27 August 2019 (DE): VTKE: Network operators must comply with applicable legal requirements on free choice of terminal equipment
The media are currently reporting that individual network operators are not complying with the legal requirements on the free choice of terminal equipment for fiber optic connections. This is justified by an ongoing project group of the Committee for Technical Regulation in Telecommunications (ATRT) of the German Federal Network Agency, which cannot, however, have a mandate to suspend legally applicable requirements.
Against this background, the Alliance of Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Manufacturers (VTKE) would like to set the record straight:
In principle, according to the German Telecommunications Act, network operators are not allowed to refuse to connect end devices if they meet the requirements. They can provide their customers with terminal equipment, but are not permitted to make its connection and use mandatory. This is current law and it applies to all access technologies – whether DSL, cable, fiber optics or LTE. It follows that all network operators must allow their customers to use their own terminal equipment. With the coming into effect of the Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Act, end users’ freedom of choice was legally confirmed. Since then, they have been able to choose from the multitude of innovative terminal devices the one that best suits their needs and wishes.
The law on the selection and connection of telecommunications terminal equipment, which has already been in force since 2016, also clearly defines the network termination point as “passive”. This legal requirement also currently applies to DSL, cable, fiber optics and LTE. No market player is entitled to redefine the network termination point on its own authority – not even for a limited period of time – according to its needs or ideas.
The VTKE is astonished that some large network operators no longer adhere to the applicable legal requirements. This is particularly bothersome in view of the fact that the regulation has been implemented by all market participants since it came into force around three years ago and has been very positively received by users in particular.
The reason given for suspending free choice of terminal equipment for fiber optic connections is the ongoing work of the ATRT project group, which, according to the network operators, is concerned with defining the network termination point. However, this is clearly not the case. Rather, the ATRT is intended to support the market when it is required to publish the description of network access interfaces. To this end, it has set up a project group in which network operators, terminal equipment manufacturers and users are working on recommendations for “implementing the publication obligations […] for interface descriptions operators of public telecommunications networks for connecting telecommunications terminal equipment”. The aim of this project group is to produce a practical guideline that will indicate what the interface descriptions should contain. The project group’s work is also based on the legislator’s definition of the network termination point as “passive” for all access technologies, which – contrary to what is implied elsewhere – is in no way open to debate. In this respect, a time-limited constraint for active terminal devices is also unjustified and, above all, not technically necessary.
In addition, the basic obligation of network operators to provide or publish accurate and adequate interface descriptions remains unaffected by the work of the project group, so that network operators still have to publish their interface specifications Otherwise, the legislator’s intended freedom of choice for end users will be undermined and technological innovations in the field of telecommunications terminal equipment will be prevented.
The VTKE still considers the work of the project group to be very important and shares the ATRT’s intention to optimize the publication practice of the interface descriptions. On the basis of these interface descriptions, the terminal device manufacturers are able to compete for the best terminal device under the same conditions to develop innovative products, which ultimately benefits the user.
The VTKE therefore considers it essential and something that should be a given that all market players – including large network operators – adhere to the applicable laws and regulations so that users can continue to have a free choice of terminal devices for all access technologies.
The law on the selection and connection of telecommunications terminal, which was passed unanimously by the German Bundestag and confirmed by the EU Commission as conforming to applicable European law, also applies to all market participants today.
24 July 2019 (DE): Survey: 80 percent of users reject obligatory routers - consumers value independence
The Alliance of Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Manufacturers (VTKE) can look back very positively on three years of freedom of choice when it comes to terminal equipment. For many users, freedom of choice at internet connections is very important and they therefore decide to purchase a device in store or online. The free choice of terminal equipment is thus proving to be a successful model.
80 percent value freedom of choice
A recent study* underlines the importance of freedom of choice of terminal equipment for users: Around 80 percent of those surveyed said that having the option of using their own terminal device is important to them. This enables them to choose a product that best meets their actual needs when it comes to performance, functionality and safety.
Consumers are also making active use of their rights. Many users make the decision to purchase a device from a retailer. In recent years, millions of terminal devices have been purchased freely on the market, i.e. not provided by the provider.
Free choice of terminal equipment leads to more variety on the market
On 1 August 2016 the necessity to use obligatory routers was abolished by law in Germany. Since then, private and commercial end users in Germany have once again been free to choose whether they want to purchase a terminal device from a retailer or use the one from the provider for all access technologies (DSL, cable, fiber optics and LTE).
The reinstated competition for the best terminal device – such as routers, telephones, telephone systems, alarm systems etc. – has led to a greater variety of innovative, high-performance products on the market. This benefits users in particular, who now have the option of purchasing a product that best suits their needs.
*Source: VTKE survey conducted by the market research institute Kantar from 27 June to 1 July 2019 / 1,051 respondents aged 18 to 69 in Germany
6 June 2019 (EU): VTKE at the BEREC Workshop on Net Neutrality: The 'socket on the wall' is the network termination point
The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) held a workshop in Brussels on 29 May 2019 as part of the review of the guidelines on net neutrality.
The Alliance of Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Manufacturers (VTKE) took part, giving a presentation which referred to the provision in Article 3 (1) of Regulation EU 2015/2120 that end-users have the right to “use terminal equipment of their choice”.
Despite this clear legal obligation and the mandate given in the guidelines to national regulatory authorities to investigate abusive behavior, in some European countries network providers are restricting their customers’ freedom of choice of terminal equipment.
The future BEREC guidelines should ensure a consistent implementation of the right of end-users to choose their terminal equipment. The VTKE points out that, even for future network topologies and technologies, and in particular for the upcoming high-speed networks, telecommunications terminal equipment is characterized by the direct connection to the physical transmission medium of the subscriber connection. The electrically/optically passive socket to the local loop (telephone, coaxial or fiber line) fulfils all legal requirements for a network termination point and only this passive socket realizes the required freedom of choice of terminal equipment for the consumer.
In addition, it should be obligatory for network providers to provide end-users with the access and/or configuration data necessary to connect their terminal equipment to the network in order to enable the use of all contractually agreed services.
28 February 2019 (NL): Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs blocks free choice of terminal equipment (press release)
In response to a parliamentary request, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs declared that it will not implement the so-called “beleidsregel netwerkaansluitpunt”, which defines the network termination point (NTP) in more detail. The NTP determines where the provider’s network ends and the private and/or commercial customer’s own network begins. The current decision prevents internet users in the Netherlands from being able to determine for themselves which terminal device – router, modem – they use for their internet access.
This turnaround is incomprehensible for the Alliance of Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Manufacturers (VTKE): The Dutch government had long been committed to promoting the free choice of terminal equipment and had conducted a public consultation on the subject between December 2017 and February 2018. The main argument of the network operators that a free choice of terminal equipment would have a negative impact on the functionality and security of their networks was refuted in an expert opinion commissioned by the government in the autumn of 2018.
In the view of the VTKE, there are therefore no grounds, either in terms of content or time, for preventing implementation. The VTKE sees the “socket on the wall” as the network termination point as the basis for consumer freedom of choice. This definition is already standard in some countries, where it leads to product innovation and open competition. In addition, the free choice of terminal equipment is explicitly provided for in EU law.
The VTKE campaigns to secure the success of the liberalization of the telecommunications market in general, and, in particular, to restore the free choice of terminal equipment.
16 January 2019 (EU): VTKE welcomes European guidelines on the identification of the network termination point
The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) will draw up new European guidelines for determining the network termination point (NAP). The NTP is the point of connection for telecommunications terminal equipment. Already in five countries (Germany, Italy, Netherlands (planned), Cyprus, Latvia) the NTP is defined as the “socket on the wall”, guaranteeing freedom of choice when it comes to terminal equipment. In the mobile communications sector, the free choice of terminal devices, such as mobile phones or LTE routers, has been both the norm and an innovation driver for years.
The Alliance of Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Manufacturers (VTKE) sees the “socket on the wall” as the NTP as the basis for consumer freedom of choice. This definition of network termination point is already standard in some countries, where it leads to innovative products and open competition.
As a comprehensive basis, BEREC published the document BoR (18) 159 “Location of the Network Termination Point”, which provides an overview of the current status of the definition of an NTP in European Union member states.
Since 1 August 2016, users in Germany have been able to freely select their terminal device. Competition for the best end device – such as routers, telephones, telephone systems, alarm systems etc. – has led to a greater variety of innovative, high-performance products on the market in recent years. This is of particular benefit to users. They can use the products that best meet their needs when it comes to performance, functionality and security.
The guidelines for determining the NTP will now be developed by a BEREC working group, followed by a public consultation.