On November 25, Deutsche Telekom, the world's third telecommunication operator, announced 0.5% decline in turnover during the third quarter of 1998, though the group refrained from revealing any precise figures. This is the first time the turnover of the semi-public company has fallen since the liberalisation of the German market in January. With private competitors slashing prices, the group has lost market share on long-distance and international calls. The Board has directly accused the telecoms regulator of giving its competitors an unfair advantage by pursuing an imbalanced policy. In an interim report released at the end of September, the group announced a 3.4% increase in turnover for the first three quarters to DM51.3 billion. In order to arrive at a truly accurate figure, it is however necessary to deduct a sum corresponding to calls carried by private operators and only invoiced by Deutsche Telekom (490 millions de DM). The subtraction leaves a modest 2.4% increase in turnover with the total volume of calls invoiced by Deutsche Telekom up 5.8% to 137.4 billion minutes.

An explanation can be found in the erosion of turnover from the fixed network: -0.4% to DM35.791 billion over nine months. Returning to the offensive, the group plans to reduce charges and simplify pricing structures in January.

Germany's postal services and telecommunications regulator has still to decide upon the price to be paid by competitors for the use of Deutsche Telekom connection points installed for its own subscribers. This, and other unresolved legislative issues are crucial to Deutsche Telekom's future and...

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