Network access is generally understood as the provision of telecommunications equipment and/or services for other providers with regard to the provision of telecommunication services. Network access is an important instrument in establishing and maintaining competition in telecommunications markets.
The Law on Telecommunications definitively regulates the forms of access which market-dominant providers must guarantee. Apart from classic interconnection (connecting networks together), these are: access to the local loop in the fixed network (copper pairs) as full access, fast bitstream access and allocation of the subscriber line. Fast bitstream access is restricted to four years from the time of effective availability of a nationwide offering which meets the legal requirements. In addition, market-dominant providers must guarantee access to leased lines and cable ducts.
In principle, network access must be provided at cost-based prices in a transparent and non-discriminatory manner. In relation to the forms of access, market-dominant providers additionally enable co-location, i.e. technical co-use of locations related to network access.
If providers cannot agree on conditions of access within three months, the Federal Communications Commission (ComCom) decides, on application from one party (primacy of negotiations). OFCOM acts as the briefing authority in access procedures. If the question of market dominance must be assessed, the Competition Commission (ComCo) must also be consulted.
Disputes arising out of agreements under private law and decisions by authorities concerning network access are judged by the civil courts.
The essential legal foundations for network access can be found in art. 11 ff. LTC (Law on Telecommunications) and art. 51 ff. DTS (Decree on Telecommunication Services).