The Telecommunications Modernization Act (TKMoG) comes into force on Wednesday.

This could bring tangible benefits to consumers.

Most interesting is probably the right to promised internet speeds.

In the future, customers will only have to pay for the Internet speed that they actually get.

You not only have a special right of termination, but also a so-called right of reduction if the actual data transfer rate deviates from the contractually guaranteed rate.

Specifically, according to the Federal Ministry of Economics, this means that end customers who only receive 50 instead of the promised 100 megabits per second, for example, only have to pay 50 percent of the monthly fee. 

However, the burden of proof lies with the customer.

But the proof is easier to produce than one might fear.

Customers have to prove the deviation of the speed either with the corresponding measuring instrument of the Federal Network Agency or with another tool certified by the authority.

Details on this are still pending because the Federal Network Agency still has to make specifications on the frequency of measurements.

The tool is expected to be available in the corresponding form from December 13th.

The right to reduce the price exists until the provider again provides evidence that he is delivering in accordance with the contract.

Compensation if the technician does not come

Even if no technician can be found in the event of a malfunction, consumers will be better off from December onwards. In the event of missed appointments or a failure of the telecommunications service, consumers can request a short-term fault clearance or, if necessary, compensation from the provider. According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, if a fault cannot be eliminated within two working days. The amount of the compensation is five euros or 10 percent of the contractually agreed monthly salary from the third day and ten euros or 20 percent from the fifth day, whichever is higher.

If an agreed appointment is missed by the provider, the consumer can demand compensation in the amount of ten euros or 20 percent of the monthly fee.

However, if the customer is responsible or the disruption is beyond the company's control, the provider is not responsible.

Susanne Blohm, digital advisor at the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (vzbv) admits that most providers fix problems quickly anyway.

But there are also cases in which users are offline for weeks.

No stuck in the old contract

The law also puts an end to long-term contracts.

In future, providers are obliged to offer customers a contract with an initial term of no more than twelve months.

So far, terms of 24 months have been widespread for cell phone contracts.

Consumers can also take out these further. 

More important than offering short contracts, however, is that telephone, internet and mobile phone contracts can no longer be automatically extended for long periods of time.

Even with 24-month contracts, customers can terminate the contract at any time with a one-month notice period after the initial minimum contract period has expired.

"Consumers are then no longer stuck in their old contract just because they missed a deadline," said Susanne Blohm, digital consultant at the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (vzbv).

"That can stimulate competition and increase switching rates - for the consumer this should hopefully result in a better price-performance ratio."

Right to fast internet

The Telecommunications Modernization Act also contains the wording that “a fast Internet access service for appropriate social and economic participation” must be available.

What this means exactly remains unclear, a minimum bandwidth is not specified in the law.

The Federation of German Consumer Organizations (vzbv) considers it open so far whether the legal claim will be a concrete gain for consumers - especially in rural areas, where connections are sometimes still very slow.

The requirements are now being specified by the Federal Network Agency and must be fixed by the beginning of June 2022.

The vzbv requires a minimum bandwidth of initially 50 Mbit per second.

Another positive aspect for consumers in the amended law is that in future they will always have to take their phone number with them when they change provider.

"The changes in the Telecommunications Act are very successful from the point of view of the vzbv and significantly improve the position of consumers vis-à-vis telecommunications groups," said Blohm.

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