Our partners from parliaments, governments, and non-profit organizations need to uphold their independence and integrity. This principle is codified in Deutsche Telekom's Guiding Principles. Donations to political institutions, parties and political representatives are not allowed, for example. Instead, we place importance on factual communication, competence, credibility and integrity. As a result, politicians and stakeholders feel that the information we provide is authentic and credible and refer to this information when forming their own opinions. Deutsche Telekom is registered in the official transparency register for lobbyists in Brussels. Within the context of our collaboration efforts in associations and other bodies, we feel that we are under the obligation to comply with all ethical codes and legal provisions.
Investment incentive needed for broadband networks
Having a high-performing, reliable and secure broadband infrastructure is the basis of success for all business sectors and is a key factor in making a business location attractive. Deutsche Telekom has been investing extensively in infrastructure for fixed-line and mobile Internet for years, making a considerable contribution and showing more commitment than any other company to providing full-area coverage, particularly in rural areas.
In view of the ambitious broadband goals at both the national and European level, the main purpose of telecommunications and regulatory policies needs to be improving planning security and, in particular, the financial power of companies willing to invest in the market. This is the only way to fully tap private network build-out potential using all available technologies. In areas where broadband roll-out is not economically feasible, it is up to the public sector to develop technology and provider-independent incentive programs to help finance these efforts. Forward-thinking regulatory policies need to actively support investment in modern broadband networks and prevent unnecessary financial burdens and red tape for the network operators investing in networks.
Regulatory intervention needs to be restricted to proven market failure to keep it from unnecessarily limiting innovation. Open access must be embraced as a basic principle so that competition and free choice for consumers are guaranteed in connection with all network build-out projects.
In view of the fact that the Internet and telecommunications market are converging rapidly and in light of the growing market power of a few global Internet players, sector-specific regulation of telecommunications is creating more and more of an imbalance. The same laws and regulations that apply to telecommunications companies also need to apply to Internet companies providing the same services. The objective here must be to create equal competitive conditions and enable fair distribution of the financial burden involved in broadband build-out.
Protecting the open Internet
As part of the EU telecoms package, regulations on network neutrality were adopted at EU level and went into effect on April 30, 2016. The new regulations particularly address permitted traffic management, once again raise transparency requirements and limit commercial product and service differentiation on the Internet.
Deutsche Telekom remains committed to preserving an open Internet. Content and services will continue to be available online in accordance with the best effort principle, meaning they will be available to the extent permitted by the available resources. Deutsche Telekom will continue to expand and optimize its infrastructure so that we are able to cope with rapidly increasing amounts of data traffic and constantly upgrade our network. This is the only way for us to meet our customers' increasing demands and live up to the requirements of online content and application providers who also want to provide their services in high quality in the future. However, telecommunication networks cannot be operated without an effective network management system.
That is why Deutsche Telekom is developing business models based on the "best effort" Internet principle that online businesses can use to offer innovative services that pose specific demands on transmission quality and quality of service. This will include managing the rapidly growing volumes of different types of data streams in the net. Content will in no way be controlled. Deutsche Telekom supports the freedom of the Internet and does not influence user or provider content in any way. Deutsche Telekom will continue to take a non-discriminatory approach to marketing services with different quality-of-service levels in competition with other network operators. This gives consumers greater choice and guarantees a high quality level.
One of Deutsche Telekom's aims is to become the most highly regarded service company in the industry. That is why we again gave high priority to consumer-related topics in 2016.
Main topics included:
- Maintaining consumer data privacy, for example in the online advertising business,
- Improving comprehensive, cross-technology protection of young people at national and EU levels (in particular by advancing a comprehensive, Group-wide minimum standard within the EU and ongoing dialog with organizations involved in the protection of minors both nationally and at EU level),
- improving customer service standards,
- improving consumer protection in telecommunications, e.g., when switching providers for fixed-line and mobile connections, and
- our efforts to provide better transparency for our customers.
Deutsche Telekom once again made progress in 2016 in regard to switching fixed-network providers - both internally as well as in collaboration with other telecommunications providers in Germany. The goal is to make it easier for both fixed-network and mobile consumers to switch providers without any service interruptions. In all these areas, Deutsche Telekom stands for a constructive and solution-oriented approach that is geared to both the consumers' interests and the interests of our company.