Next Generation Universal Service in The Field of Electronic Communications?



Broadband access is a component of electronic communications services available for the public as a whole at any place in a modern country which should thus be designated as a new universal service enabling important improvements relating to e-commerce as well as to e-government. Would this concept be consistent with EC law, which modifications of the directive of 2002 would be necessary? Moreover, the German Telecommunications Act of 2004 would have to be altered to include an obligation granting broadband access to every customer at an affordable price. Although German Basic Law does also contain a provision requiring the Federation to care about “basic” telecommunications services to be delivered by private operators, those enterprises might be unwilling if they would have to extend their services to the public in a commercially unreasonable way.

Do public interests or “market failure” in fact justify the ways and instruments of German broadband access policy at Federal as well as at State and local levels, and may the German “model” be apt for a transfer to other EC countries where a similar “digital divide” at least seems to arise in the near future?