Vodafone and German fiber optics: Warning because of forced modem

Consumer advocates have warned Vodafone and German fiber optics. Since these violate the freedom of choice for end devices.

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.

Statement from Vodafone

PC-WELT asked Vodafone for a statement. This came promptly and reads as follows: “We have not yet received the warning from the Rhineland-Palatinate consumer center. Upon receipt, we will examine it and decide how to proceed.”

Opinion from Deutscherglas fiber

PC-WELT asked German fiber optics for a statement. German fiber optics has not yet responded.

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