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90 percent slower than in the contract? This is how you defend yourself against the tricks of the network provider

E-mails load in slow motion, the WhatsApp message does not go out, the video stream is jerky - smartphone users know the problem.

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90 percent slower than in the contract? This is how you defend yourself against the tricks of the network provider

E-mails load in slow motion, the WhatsApp message does not go out, the video stream is jerky - smartphone users know the problem. All of this happens not only in the forest, but also on the bus, on the way to work, at school, on the motorway or in the living room. However, what many users do not know:

If their mobile Internet speed deviates too much from the speed that providers promise them, they can reduce their monthly payments. This is what the new Telecommunications Act (TKG) has been for since December.

But that's only on paper. So far, smartphone users have not been able to really enforce their rights. Because the reality is different. Complaints by e-mail are not answered, hotlines cannot be reached. And if users do manage to get through to their provider, they cannot prove that their mobile Internet is only working poorly.

That should change in the future. The Federal Network Agency is currently working on a general decree that is intended to clarify what constitutes a significant, continuous or regularly recurring deviation in speed. According to the law, this is a prerequisite for a tariff reduction.

However, the text of the law does not explain what these terms mean in detail. In the meantime, the network agency has put its ideas on the table in a key issues paper. But instead of helping consumers to enforce their rights, the opposite could now be happening. At least that's what consumer advocates fear.

Because there should be tolerance zones. "In our opinion, the deductions proposed by the network agency are too high," says Felix Flosbach, a lawyer and telecommunications expert at the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer advice center. In fact, the regulatory authority gives the mobile operators a lot of leeway in their paper.

Even if Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefónica promise their customers data speeds of 300 or 500 megabits per second, they only have to deliver a fraction of this, depending on the location. In its key issues paper, the regulator grants network operators discounts of 75 percent in cities, 85 percent in semi-urban areas and 90 percent in rural areas.

In order to determine whether these thresholds are being met, users should measure the speed themselves with their smartphones. To this end, the network agency wants to expand its radio hole app, which is already available for iPhones and Android devices.

In thousands of cases, the domestic Internet still has major deficits. From mid-December to the end of June, around 22,000 measurements were completed with the Federal Network Agency's broadband measurement app, almost all of which resulted in a reduction claim.

Source: WORLD

At the end, this program creates a measurement protocol that is intended to be used as proof for the network operators. A look at the proposed measurement system shows what users who are dissatisfied with their Internet speed can expect.

In order to be able to legally secure their reduction claim, they have to take 30 measurements manually, spread over five calendar days, six measurements per day.

There must also be a three-hour break between the third and fourth measurement of a measurement day, and a five-minute break between all other measurements.

Whether they can then reduce their tariff depends on the results. The consequence of the high discounts becomes clear when you turn the numbers around:

If only ten percent of the speed promised by the providers is measured in rural areas, a tariff reduction is not possible. The threshold is 15 percent in semi-urban areas and a quarter in the city.

These speeds do not have to be constantly available. In rural areas, for example, it is sufficient if only one tenth of the promised speed is measured on three out of five measurement days.

"The cornerstones only make very moderate performance demands on the mobile network operators, so they are not particularly ambitious," says Torsten Gerpott, a telecommunications expert from the University of Duisburg-Essen.

He describes the haircuts as too high. "Not least in order to provide incentives for network operators to make their high estimates of estimated maximum speeds more realistic, the discounts must be lower, probably less than 50 percent."

Basically, mobile operators are in a dilemma: they can only win new customers if they poach users away from their competitors. Not least because of this, they advertise with high maximum speeds.

Vodafone does not refer to the latest generation of mobile communications as 5G, but as 5G to annoy the competition a little: "While you surf the Vodafone LTE network with a maximum of 500 megabits per second, data can already be transmitted via the 5G network with up to 1000 megabits per second.”

Of course, the imaginary speeds have nothing to do with the everyday life of smartphone users. The network agency sees it that way too.

Some providers interpret the estimated speed in such a way that this is a value that can be achieved under ideal conditions by a single user active in the radio cell, she writes in her key issues paper. In fact, however, there are usually several people in a radio cell - and share the top speed.

But even if only one person is using a radio cell, such a maximum speed is not possible in many places. This is because the mobile phone networks use different frequencies at their locations.

The network agency also states that the cell phone sites in rural areas are currently not designed to achieve the estimated maximum speeds of up to 500 megabits per second specified in the individual contracts.

In rural areas, mobile operators care more about range than speed. That's why they use longer-wave frequencies there, which transport less data but reach further with fewer antennas. Not least because of this, the regulator is planning three different deductions, depending on the location.

But that creates uneasiness in politics. The CDU/CSU parliamentary group fears a “three-tier society” in mobile communications.

"It is unacceptable that customers in rural areas should be able to demonstrate discounts of at least 90 percent on the contractually agreed mobile service," says the parliamentary group's digital policy spokesman, Reinhard Brandl. "There can be no talk of equal living conditions, and rural areas are once again being neglected."

Despite the high discounts, mobile operators are afraid of their customers' measurements. This is also due to the fact that they do not always have control over the speed that is actually possible.

Reception quality varies depending on the distance and position from the cellphone antenna and is influenced by vegetation, weather, topology and shielding from buildings. The reception is usually better in the attic than in the basement.

"Users assume that the maximum values ​​that the network can technically achieve cannot always and everywhere be available," says Jürgen Grützner, Managing Director of the Association of Providers of Telecommunications and Value-Added Services (VATM), in which also the mobile operators are organized.

The mobile phone companies are currently preparing their statements in order to be able to influence the general decree. According to information from WELT AM SONNTAG, they require changes to the measurement method.

According to the plans, the measurement logs should contain not only the results of the measurements but also information about the smartphone used, the operating system, the type of mobile phone connection, the location and the location accuracy.

For example, it can also be determined whether the user was moving in the car or on the train during the measurements. But information is not recorded as to whether the user is in a building or is possibly using another application such as Netflix at the same time, which consumes data and thus reduces the speed.

According to the network agency, measurements in places where the mobile Internet is particularly bad should not count at all.

The network operators could defuse the situation themselves. "It would basically be desirable if the providers would give more realistic values ​​in their advertising," says Flosbach from the consumer advice center in North Rhine-Westphalia.

The network agency also makes a suggestion that it would be conceivable "not just to specify a single nationwide value, but to contractually specify locally differentiated values". This can be done with a coverage map.

Companies, associations and organizations have until the end of September to submit statements to the network agency. The authority then draws up the general decree, just as it did last year for the reduction regulations in the fixed network, where users can already assert their rights with the help of a measurement protocol.

The network agency justifies the delay for mobile communications with the technical differences to the fixed network. The procedure for the mobile Internet is "significantly more demanding". It is unlikely that the plans will change fundamentally.

"After the experience with the general decree for the reduction in the fixed network, it is not to be expected that the rules will ultimately improve for the consumer compared to the key issues paper," says consumer advocate Flosbach. In addition, the probability is rather low that there will be a general decree this year.

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