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Licensing and authorisation
What licences/authorisations are required to provide telecoms services?
In general, the provision of telecoms services does not require a licence.
Licences or authorisations are required only with respect to specific business activities in or relating to the telecoms market. For example, a licence from the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority may be required for the provisioning of certain mobile payment services. Further, authorisation from the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) is required for the use of public ways for telecoms infrastructure. Generally, in areas where only limited resources are available, individual authorisation may be required. This applies to numbers and spectrum in certain spectrum bands.
Although there is no general requirement for a licence or authorisation, there are certain notification requirements. Under Section 6 of the Telecoms Act, the provider of a telecoms service is obliged to notify its activities to the BNetzA.
According to Section 109 of the Telecoms Act, each provider of a public telecoms network or a publicly available telecoms service must:
- implement adequate technical measures to prevent hacking or other disturbances;
- appoint a security officer; and
- adopt an IT security concept.
The security concept must be notified to the BNetzA.
If the telecoms service provider exceeds the thresholds of the IT Security Act and the Critical infrastructure Ordinance, it must provide proof of the implementation of specific IT security measures to the Federal Office for Information Security according to Section 8a of the Federal Office for Information Security Act.
What are the eligibility, documentary and procedural requirements to obtain a licence/authorisation?
To fulfil the notification obligation according to Section 6 of the Telecoms Act , a form provided by BNetzA must be completed. As proof of identity, an excerpt from the company register or, in certain cases, an expert from the trade register must be added. In the case of a foreign company, an authorised representative in Germany must be appointed in addition to providing the company address. The representative will be authorised to receive communication from the BNetzA in a legally binding manner. Such authorisation must be demonstrated in writing.
Validity period and renewal
What is the validity period for licences/authorisations and what are the terms of renewal?
Under Section 6 of the Telecoms Act, the notification is valid until the company changes its telecoms services or its address.
Section 8b of the Federal Office for Information Security Act states that the proof of implementation of necessary IT security obligations must be renewed every two years.
Most of the specific authorisations and allocations needed for specific commercial activities are granted for an indefinite period.
What fees apply?
The BNetzA charges fees based on various fees regulations, and the fees are generally relatively low. Section 6 of the Telecoms Act provides that no fees are charged for a notification.
What is the usual timeframe for obtaining a licence/authorisation?
A telecoms service provider can conduct its business in Germany as soon as the notification is filed under Section 6.
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