European Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding secured her colleagues' backing on 20 December to send a letter of formal notice to Germany immediately after the controversial bill on telecom investments enters into force, probably in the course of January.

"This demonstrates the European Commission's determination to act quickly on a law that has been repeatedly criticised by the Commission and on which a long-running dispute with the German government has been raging for more than a year," said a spokesperson.

The bill which, according to the Commission, unduly favours incumbent telecommunications operator Deutsche Telekom, was adopted by Germany's parliament a month ago. It is due to be signed in the coming days by Germany's President Horst Kohler (CDU) and will then enter into force.

The bill would enable Deutsche Telekom to deny its rivals access to its very broadband (VDSL) network. The operator is threatening to suspend its investments if it failed to obtain a monopoly for several years on the use of this fibre-optic network, arguing that this represents the only means for it to secure a decent return on its investment.

Reding's services are ready to launch infringement proceedings once the text is published in Germany's Official Journal. Reding sped up the process lest the law enters into force before the Commission's next scheduled meeting on 10 January 2007. Berlin will indeed have just 15 days to respond from the entry into force of the law instead of two months usually available under infringement...

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