Germany: The New Telecommunications Act - Part 2 - Licences and Licensing Procedures

Last Updated: 18 September 1996
The new German Telecommunications Act distinguishes between telecommunication services subject to a licence, services to be notified to the authorities and so called free services. Licences, which have been granted under the regime of the now basically obsolete Telecommunications Installations Act (FAG) like those for mobile telephone services or satellite telecommunications services, however, will remain in force.

Licences will be granted by a regulatory body. They are required for those areas, which were previously subject to the state monopoly, namely the provision and the operation of the public (fixed, mobile or satellite) network as well as voice telephony services. This licensing requirement is considered necessary in order to ensure an effective basic telecommunications service, in particular in catastrophe and crisis situations, to ensure telecommunication privacy and to ensure a universal network with general geographical coverage. A license will only be required, however, for the operation of public networks crossing property limits i.e. where the network is to be used to provide telecommunication services to the public and for the provision of voice telephony services to the public based on self-operated telecommunication networks (Section 6 TKG). The commercial provision of any other form of telecommunication services e.g. the operation of corporate networks, the provision of data transmission, telefax- and video conference services, the provision of terminal equipment, the resale of voice telephony without the operation of a network etc. does not require a licence and only needs to be notified to the relevant regulatory body (Section 4 TKG). Neither a licence nor a notification is needed for any other non-commercial telecommunication activities.

For practical and administrative reasons, services which require a licence are divided into four licence categories: mobile telephone services to the public (licence class I), satellite services to the public (licence class II), telecommunication services to the public which do not fall within licence classes I or II i.e. the operating of public telecommunication networks (licence class III) and, finally, voice telephony services, which, however, does not include the right to operate a public telecommunication network (licence class IV). Each of the licence classes can be combined in any manner. Thus, a service provider can either restrict the services it provides to one licence class (e.g. the operation of the telecommunication network) or it can provide services in all four licence classes. Radio frequencies, which are necessary for the operation of a transmission path within a licence will be allocated in a special procedure for such frequencies (Section 44 ff. TKG).

Any applicant is basically entitled to a licence (Section 8 TKG). The Act does not require a potential licencee to satisfy any particular requirements. However, a licence will be denied, if the applicant does not have the necessary reliability, capacity and the technical expertise to provide the services subject to the licence. The same applies, if the regulatory body does not have at its disposal a sufficient number of radio frequencies, which could be allocated to the applicant. It should be noted that there are no particular limitations with regard to foreign applicants. Therefore, the German telecommunication market will be open to all foreign undertakings. It is also possible for foreign undertakings to acquire shareholdings/partnership shares in German telecommunication undertakings.

A fee is charged for the granting of a licence (Section 15 TKG). The number of licences that can be granted is basically unrestricted, although special restrictions apply to radio frequency networks (Section 10 TKG). Here, the number of licences that can be granted depends on the number of frequencies available. If there is a shortage in the number of available frequencies, the licences for these radio wave based services will be admitted to a special procedure (Section 11 TKG). Pursuant to this procedure, the licences will primarily be auctioned in an objective, transparent and discrimination-free manner. An auction will not take place, if the auction procedure is unsuitable. This would be the case, if a competitor in the same geographical and pertinent market has already been granted a licence without an auction. Then a public tender will apply. This latter procedure will also be followed for the allocation of radio frequencies for the connection of telephones. The legislator has stipulated that applicants who can show that they can provide services over a large geographical area will be given priority treatment. This has already been criticized by the European Commission who has pointed out that granting an applicant absolute priority does not conform to the list of permissible licence restrictions laid down in the relevant EU Directives. It, therefore, remains to be seen whether this criticism has any effect on the tender policy of the regulatory body.

A licence need not cover the whole of the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany or a Federal State. It is possible to apply for a limited geographical area. It can, therefore, be expected that licensed telecommunication services will be offered in a number of smaller market segments rather than in one large market. The demand by the Federal States that licensed areas should be a combination of more developed areas and weaker infrastructure areas was rejected during parliamentary debates as not being compatible with EU-Directives. The current rules may lead to a particular service provider acquiring a dominant market position in a particular market segment and, thus becoming subject to the provisions of the TKG which govern dominant market positions.

Once a licence has been granted, it can be transferred to a third party in writing and only with the prior consent of the regulatory body (Section 9 TKG). The regulatory body may object to such a transfer only for the same grounds for which it could object for granting the original licence. In the case of legal succession other than by transfer, the regulatory body has to be notified in order for it to decide whether the licence should be revoked or not.

Like every other administrative act, licences are subject to revocation according to the general rules laid down in the Administrative Procedure Act. In addition to this, special grounds for revocation are laid down in Section 15 TKG. According to this rule, the regulatory body may revoke a licence at its sensible discretion, if the licencee does not comply with its obligations under the licence, especially in the event of an infringement of telecommunication secrecy, data protection rules or criminal law. The same applies in the case of a legal succession or if the use of the licence is transferred to a third party and the successor could have been denied a licence.

A competitor who was denied a licence in the auction or tender proceedings may bring legal proceedings before the competent administrative court in Cologne. The same applies, if the regulatory body refuses to grant a licence to an applicant. A licencee, whose licence has been revoked, can also bring an action to set aside the revocation.

For further information please contact Dr. Markus Deutsch, Gleiss Lutz Hootz Hirsch & Partners , Gartnerweg 2, 60322 Frankfurt, Germany, Fax: +49 69 955 14 198 - or enter text search 'Gleiss Lutz Hootz Hirsch & Partners' and 'Business Monitor'.

The article is correct to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. However, it is written as a general guide. Therefore specialist advice should be sought as regards your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.