Vodafone and German fiber optics reject criticism from consumer advocates

Vodafone and DeutscheOSS reject the criticism of consumer advocates for the alleged violation of the freedom of choice of end devices. Both companies say so.

Update May 6th: Vodafone defends itself against criticism from consumer advocates

PC-WELT asked Vodafone for a statement on the allegations made by consumer advocates (see below). This comment came promptly:

Today we received a warning from the consumer advice center Rhineland-Palatinate (VZ RLP) because of an alleged violation of the so-called freedom from routers in our fiber optic tariffs. We will review them and then decide how to proceed.

In terms of content, it is about the question of the network termination point. We do not share the opinion of VZ RLP that the network termination point here is the “socket in the wall”. Vodafone is of the opinion that the network termination point is more at the passive LAN port of the fiber optic modem (ONT for short) – and this is therefore part of the network infrastructure.

In addition, the use of customer-owned ONTs can lead to disruptions and security problems in the network. We have to protect our customers from this.

We also don’t see that customers have any real interest in using their own ONT, since its function is limited to communicating with the network.

The innovative functions that are decisive from the customer’s point of view are implemented in the subsequently connected router. And here our customers have the option of using their own routers.

From our point of view, the opinion of VZ RLP is therefore not correct.

German fiber optics also rejects allegations

PC-WELT asked German fiber optics for a statement. German fiber optics answered us as follows: ”

Basically, we make it clear: In accordance with the legal requirements, German fiber optics enables the freedom of choice of end devices. Anyone can attach their end device of choice to the fiber optics from DeutscheOSS.

More than 30% of the customers of German fiber optics use their own router.

If the customer wants a passive network termination, the ONT will be removed by German fiber optics. This process has been optimized over the past few months so that this customer request can be fulfilled even more quickly. The passive network termination can be booked in direct sales on site and via the service number of DeutscheOSS. Updates are currently being implemented on the DeutscheOSS website in order to optimize communication with customers.

On the subject of freedom of choice for end devices, DeutscheOSS is of course open to a constructive exchange with the Rhineland-Palatinate Consumer Advice Centre.

Update end, beginning of the original message:

The consumer advice center Rhineland-Palatinate has warned Vodafone and German fiber optics. Consumer advocates accuse both companies of violating the legally stipulated freedom of choice for end devices.

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Because since August 2016, customers have been able to freely choose the end device, i.e. the modem or the router with an integrated modem, for their Internet access. You can read more about this in the reports Law against compulsory routers in preparation and end of compulsory routers: This is coming your way.

With DSL connections and probably also with cable connections, this shouldn’t usually be a problem – even if the Internet providers almost always try to force their own preconfigured routers on the customers, which often have limited functionality. But with fiber optic connections, the approach taken by Internet providers seems to be even more drastic. Because the consumer advocates emphasize that only a few fiber optic providers would stick to this free choice of end device and instead offer the use of a customer’s own fiber optic modem/fiber optic router as standard when the contract is concluded.

According to the law, the responsibility of the telecommunications provider ends at the so-called “passive network termination point” according to the consumer advocates. With a VDSL connection this is the telephone socket (TAE socket), with a cable connection it is the cable socket and with a fiber optic connection it is the fiber optic connection socket. In practice, according to consumer advocates, most fiber optic providers install a permanently installed fiber optic modem (ONT) in the apartments behind the fiber optic connection socket. “Modern fiber optic routers have already integrated this fiber optic modem,” explains Michael Gundall, technology expert at the Rhineland-Palatinate consumer advice center. Gundall continues, “However, providers often make it very difficult or even impossible for consumers to use such devices.” For one, they install a fixed fiber optic modem by default. On the other hand, they suggest to the customer when ordering that they have to use the provider’s fiber optic modem.

According to the consumer advice center, Vodafone and the German fiber optics violate the freedom of end devices. Therefore, the consumer advocates have now warned the two companies.

According to their statements, the consumer advocates first sought to talk to the providers and provider associations. However, since they were “unreasonable” (quote from the consumer advocates), the consumer advice center has now warned two large fiber optic providers.

Consumer advocates are demanding that providers inform their customers when they sign the contract that they can use their own fiber optic modem or a combination device, i.e. a router with an integrated fiber optic modem, in addition to their own router. The advantage of combi devices is that only one device is required and therefore less power is consumed.

The consumer advice center advises against rental devices from the providers. The rental costs would exceed the purchase price of the router after two to three years. If the router purchased by the customer has a defect, the statutory two-year warranty initially applies. And some manufacturers, such as AVM, even offer a five-year manufacturer’s guarantee from the date of purchase.

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