German multisector regulator, BNetZa, celebrates 20th anniversary
Bundesnetzagentur (BNetZa), the German multisector regulator, marked its 20th anniversary with an event in Bonn at which Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel gave the anniversary address.
“We started out 20 years ago as a regulatory authority. Today, we are the most important infrastructure authority in Germany,” said Jochen Homann, BNetZa president. “We’re celebrating 20 years of being responsible for critical networks, with competition providing the impetus.” The Regulatory Authority for Telecommunications and Post was founded in 1998 in the course of the liberalisation of the postal and telecoms markets. In 2005, it was given the name Bundesnetzagentur and gained additional responsibilities, regulating electricity and gas markets. Rail regulation was added to its role in 2006. At its founding 20 years ago, it had 2,800 members of staff. Now, despite a greatly increased workload, that figure is 2,900, based at 48 sites across the country. The founding president of the authority, Klaus-Dieter Scheurle, recalled, “The most important decisions made by the agency in the first 3 years included ensuring fair, non-discriminatory access to the local loop, the so-called last mile, and thus opening up the local network to competition… The UMTS auction in summer 2000 definitely made us known to the general public. Six mobile communications companies acquired licences at a cost of nearly 100 billion marks. For us, however, the priority was not the amount paid but ensuring that the spectrum would be used to its full potential. Our aim was to create good networks for consumers.” Matthias Kurth became president in 2001 and led the authority for over 11 years. “The real task in the early years was that of opening up the market. Mobile communications were the key to that, as they developed in a significantly more competitive way than the fixed network sector at the start,” said Kurth. “At the start of energy regulation we caused a stir with our very first cost examination. We adjusted the valuation of the fixed assets of the regional monopolists downwards by billions. This first positioning resulted in considerable reductions in the network charges,” he added. Homann succeeded Kurth in 2012. He said: “Giving approval for electricity lines is a completely new task for us. That shows how dynamically our authority has developed. We are also entering completely new territory in network expansion as far as communication is concerned, talking directly to residents, representatives of civil society and local authorities, making the case for power lines and ultimately deciding on their routes.” Read more
- Monday, 25 June 2018