Sections 42 et seq. TKG contain provisions regarding the allocation of telephone numbers. Pursuant to international agreements, telephone numbers must be allocated in compliance with strict rules. The responsibility of allocating such numbers has according to Section 43 TKG, therefore, been given to the regulatory body. This body is responsible for drawing up a plan for allocation purposes as well as administering telephone numbers. The conditions applied to the allocation of such numbers must be transparent, objective and non-discriminatory. This is to ensure fair competition for all undertakings wishing to provide telecommunications services. Operators of the telecommunication networks must on their part ensure that users, who change carrier but remain in the same location, can keep the same number (carrier portability). The telecommunication carriers have to ensure that each user is free in his choice of long-distance carrier. Every user has the freedom to choose a long-distance carrier by means of permanent preselection. However, this preselection can be overridden by a carrier selection prefix each time a particular call is made. These obligations were only imposed and incorporated into the Act during the Act's passage through parliament. Because it will be difficult to transpose these obligations in practice, operators of the network have been given a grace period until 1 January 1998 in which to comply with these obligations.
Another very important part of the telecommunications regulations is frequency regulation. The number of radio frequencies that can be allocated for telecommunication services is limited due to international agreements governing on the separation of frequencies. The frequencies must be coordinated to ensure that the electro-magnetic waves transmitted when using such frequencies do not interfere with the signals of other frequencies. Therefore, the planning of frequency use, frequency allocation and control of frequency use is a very important part of any telecommunications regulation. Frequency regulation requires complicated planning decisions. The Federal Government is empowered to draw up a frequency band allocation plan in statutory instruments. These statutory instruments do not require the consent of the German Bundesrat. However, in so far, as frequencies for broadcasting purposes are allocated, consent from the Bundesrat is required. The reason for this is that the regulation of broadcasting falls within the competency of the Federal States. In a second step, the regulatory body is responsible for drawing up a frequency usage plan. This frequency usage plan has to take into account the aims of the Telecommunications Act, especially to ensure equal opportunity and workable competition as well as European harmonization, technical developments and the compatibility of frequency usage in the transmission media. Each single frequency has to be allocated by the regulatory authority in accordance with the frequency usage plan. The allocation has to take place in a non-discriminatory manner on the basis of comprehensable and objective procedures. If there are not sufficient frequencies, the frequencies will be allocated in special proceedings as laid down in Section 11 TKG. Frequencies for broadcasting may only be allocated, if the autorization required pursuant to Media Laws has been issued. An operator is under a duty to use the allocated frequencies. The regulatory body can withdraw a frequency granted to a particular operator, if such frequency is not used within one year. The purpose of this regulation is to ensure that efficient use is made of the short number of frequencies available.
For further information please contact Dr. Markus Deutsch, Gleiss Lutz Hootz Hirsch, Gartnerweg 2, 60322 Frankfurt, Germany, Tel: +49 69 955 141, Fax: +49 69 955 14 198.
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.
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