One year measurement tool: Internet access at home still poor

Status: 13.12.2022 06:33

One year ago today, the new measurement tool was launched, with which consumers can check their fixed-line internet and thus claim reductions. The balance is mixed.

Measure your own internet connection and pay less money per month if there are deviations from the conditions: This is the idea behind the widebandmessage.de measuring instrument for consumers, which the Federal Network Agency created on December 13, 2021 as part of the amendment to the Telecommunications Act.

If the network at home is significantly worse than agreed in terms of the collective agreement, the households have the right to a reduction in the monthly benefit. A year after the introduction of the so-called price reduction right and the associated tool, which can be used in the browser or as a desktop app, the bottom line is a mixed balance.

user numbers are decreasing

One thing is clear from the test measurements, which will soon also be available for mobile communications: In thousands of cases, Internet companies still offer a service that is too poor. From mid-December 2021 to the end of October 2022, consumers completed about 28,000 measurements necessary for the legal requirement, which the Federal Network Agency announced this week in response to a dpa request. Almost exclusively a reduction requirement was found.

The chairman of the Federal Network Agency, Klaus Müller, is therefore satisfied: “The measurement tool has been well established after one year,” emphasizes the former consumer lawyer. “We help thousands of consumers prove that their provider is underperforming.” Since its inception, the app alone has been downloaded and installed a whopping 100,000 times. Many consumers began the time-consuming measurements, especially in the early days.

The problem: several users did not complete it. 30 tests are required over three days, with varying time intervals between tests. Only those who persevere get a protocol at the end. In addition, initial interest generally ebbed quickly. Well over half of the mentioned measurements (15,000) were already carried out in the first two and a half months after start-up.

Slow internet: Reduction per measurement protocol

Internet tariff contracts contain a product information sheet in which the provider indicates the maximum, minimum and normally available data speed. According to the legislation, there must be no “substantial, persistent or regularly recurring deviation” from these specifications, otherwise the consumer can claim a reduction.

For the new reduction right, consumers must use the desktop app “breitbandmessung.de” for broadband measurement from the Federal Network Agency, but via the LAN cable and not via WLAN, because the wireless access to the fixed network Internet speeds up.

To obtain a measurement log, a total of 30 measurements on three different calendar days are required. At least five minutes must pass between the measurements or at least three hours between the fifth and sixth measurements of the day. The total period of the “measurement campaign” must not be longer than two weeks.

Criticism of lack of transparency and high effort

Consumer advocates refer to a number of negative aspects. One point of criticism: The measurement log contains no information about how much consumers can actually reduce their monthly bill. You must clarify this individually with your provider. It is only regulated whether the speed of the fixed-line broadband connections is in accordance with the contract or not – for example, if the normally available speed is not reached in 90 percent of the measurements.

In the completed log, the households can finally see if there is a deviation. ISPs use different criteria to calculate the specific amount of the reduction. For consumers, it is sometimes “not explained in an understandable way, even when asked how the reduction amount is arrived at,” the consumer advice centers claim. For this reason, they offer an abatement calculator on their website that allows users to know the exact amount of abatement they are entitled to.

However, the reasons for the recent drop in the number of measurements are unclear. The consumer centers point out that the measurements are too complex and not user-friendly. According to their estimates, the number of unreported households that have worse internet than contractually agreed is high.

The industry sees a positive development

ISPs, on the other hand, see the development as proof that their performance has improved. In addition, the number of measurements with demonstrably deficient internet compared to the 38 million broadband connections in Germany is very small. “In our opinion, the overall very low number of complaints clearly shows that the vast majority of users feel that they are well taken care of with their internet connections,” says Jürgen Grützner from the internet industry association VATM (Association of Providers of Telecommunications and Value). -Added Services).

At Telekom, for example, the number of complaints is, according to its own statement, at a low level, with a low three-digit number per week. “We take care of every case and are always looking for accommodating solutions in the interest of our customers. Of course, we also provide the statutory reductions,” says a spokeswoman for the Bonn-based group. So far there have been no complaints. Vodafone made a similar statement. “Only very few landline customers have so far applied for a reduction, which we have of course granted in justified cases,” says a spokesperson for the company.

Consumer advocates nevertheless criticize the providers. According to their results, the companies rejected a reduction “usually or do not respond, even if the necessary documents were submitted,” according to a statement from the Federal Association of Consumer Organizations (vzbv). If a company is indeed stubborn, consumers can go to the High Court. They could have good cards there after the law was changed a year ago.

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