KIEL (dpa-AFX) - Schleswig-Holstein's State Secretary for Economic Affairs Julia Carstens (CDU) has called for stronger competition requirements for mobile service providers following the Federal Network Agency's announcement to postpone the renewed auction of mobile frequencies. Last week, the agency decided to initially extend the licenses for five years in exchange for fees.

Despite 1&1's entry into the mobile communications market, Carstens believes this is a missed opportunity to strengthen competition. "The existing negotiation requirement for service providers will not be significantly tightened. However, an obligation to offer with a ban on discrimination would have increased the chances of providers such as Freenet or fixed network providers such as municipal utilities stimulating the market and ensuring more favorable tariffs," Carstens told dpa.

So far, the negotiation requirement only stipulates that mobile phone providers must talk to service providers requesting access to their own network and must not place them in a worse position than their own sales. "Without improvements to this regulation, Germany will remain a high-price country for mobile tariffs with high data volumes for the foreseeable future," criticized Carstens. She would have liked the Federal Network Agency to strengthen competition between mobile providers and service providers.

Carstens called the planned extension of usage rights for the major mobile network operators Telekom, Vodafone and Telefonica a good compromise. In this way, security of supply for mobile phone users would be guaranteed and the companies would maintain planning security and a willingness to invest. It is important that 1&1 continues to have a fair chance to establish itself as the fourth provider.

According to the latest decision by the Network Agency, each of the three established mobile network operators is to cover 99.5 percent of the German territory and - after freeways and federal highways - also all state roads in the future without mutual offsetting. "This will also mean that cell phone users in Schleswig-Holstein will not be stuck in a dead zone in future if there is a network above them, but not their own."

According to Carstens, the state government is currently implementing simplifications to the state building regulations in order to implement the ambitious area requirement and to be able to erect mobile phone masts as unbureaucratically as possible. "In addition, the federal government should finally get the planned Network Expansion Acceleration Act off the ground and enshrine the overriding public interest in network expansion."/moe/DP/he