Government relations & regulatory issues.
As a globally active company with a strong presence in Europe, Deutsche Telekom acts as a discussion partner for governments, parliaments, authorities and NGOs on all issues related to ICT and innovation. Headquartered in Germany, we receive special attention from German domestic institutions. We also have a representative office in Brussels, where we engage in dialog with the institutions of the European Union as well as with other associations and organizations. We also engage in active dialog with similar institutions in countries in which Deutsche Telekom is active, particularly in the European markets and in the United States.
Politicians and government authorities influence the development and availability of the network infrastructure, technologies and services that are required for future ICT solutions such as cloud computing. Not only does this directly impact the competitiveness of telecommunications companies, it also impacts business in general, which relies on having a fast network infrastructure as well as state-of-the-art telecommunications services. In addition to economic factors, networks and services are considerably important for maintaining a sense of community in society. Decision-makers from parliaments, authorities and governments need the exchange of ideas with representatives of society and companies to help them tackle these challenges. Both the Bundestag, the lower house of the German Parliament, and the German federal government sought dialog on the revision of the German Telecommunications Act during the reporting period. That is why Deutsche Telekom engages in active, constant dialog with interested stakeholders from politics and the general public.
Our partners from parliaments, governments and other organizations need to uphold their independence and integrity. This principle is codified in Telekom's employee guidelines, which were revised in early 2011. For example, they prohibit donations to political institutions in Germany as well as non-transparent influential practices. By adhering to these guidelines, we are able to base our political communication on facts, expertise, credibility and integrity. Deutsche Telekom also ensures transparency by having registered in the public lobbyist register in Brussels with all the required information. This is the basis for recipients to experience our political communication as authentic and trustworthy, so that it can be taken into account in opinion-building processes in the political arena and society.
Deutsche Telekom advocates future-minded regulation which encourages investment in broadband networks of the next generation more strongly. This can only be achieved by introducing more investment incentives and increasing planning security for the industry. The new EU legal framework for telecommunications already takes these requirements into account and is sending out a vital impetus. It is of key importance to Telekom that, after having been implemented in all EU member states, this framework provides the necessary incentives to invest in network expansion in the daily practice of national regulatory authorities. These include:
- Increasing planning and legal security for investors before network expansion begins
- Giving market solutions priority above regulation
- Establishing regionally differentiated regulation that takes the competitive situation in the various regions into account
- Better opportunities to distribute risk fairly between investors and competitors who require access to their infrastructure
- Tapping into synergies by facilitating the shared use of existing infrastructure in all network sectors
There was much discussion about the topic of network neutrality in the current reporting period. More specifically, there are concerns that today's Internet might be restricted in the future. Services which can now be accessed freely would then be available at extra cost only or not at all. However, Deutsche Telekom is committed to the open Internet. Content and services will remain accessible online according to the best effort principle in the future.
Deutsche Telekom will continuously expand its transmission capacities and infrastructure in order to be able to cope with our customers' growing data traffic and to enable innovations in the network. Only in this way will we be able to meet growing customer demands and enable providers of online content and applications to offer their services at the required quality levels. Network management is indispensable for operating telecommunications networks.
Based on the "best effort" Internet, Deutsche Telekom is developing business models that the Internet sector can use to offer innovative services that require a certain level of transmission quality.
Deutsche Telekom will be able to market different, non-discriminating quality standards in competition with other network providers in the future as well. This will support medium and long-term financing of broadband network expansion and enable providers to offer a wider range of services and guaranteed, high quality levels to consumers.
Deutsche Telekom supports mandatory transparency and provision of information on service quality. These obligations are specified in the European directives of 2009 and have been translated into national law. They have enabled national regulatory authorities to define minimum requirements on service quality. In combination with general competition law, these legal provisions are sufficient to guarantee the open Internet for the long term, without having to introduce any new laws or regulations.
Deutsche Telekom aims to become the most highly regarded service company in the industry, which is why we focused heavily on consumer topics in 2011. We also strengthened internal functions dealing with consumer relations in order to improve exchange between our product and service development and external stakeholders from the political arena and the general public. We are involved in the following key topics regarding legislation and stakeholder dialog as well as efforts to create voluntary regulations for the industry:
- Safeguarding customer data
- At the European level, creating new youth protection initiatives together with competitors along the entire value chain
- Improving standards in customer service
- Protecting consumers, e.g., when moving or switching providers
In all these areas, Telekom adopts a constructive and solution-oriented approach that is geared to both the consumer's interests and the interests of our company.
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