Telecoms in Germany
Baker McKenzie is a heavyweight for regulatory matters and is also continuing to successfully expand its telecoms practice to handle machine-to- machine communication (M2M) matters. A highlights in this area was assisting an automotive manufacturer with the implementation of connected car services; practice head Joachim Scherer and counsel Caroline Heinickel advised on the telecoms law requirements of such automotive services, the service registration at the responsible authorities and the development of a compliance system. The Frankfurt office centrally managed the advice in over 40 jurisdictions across the globe. In addition to an M2M focus, OTT services and broadband expansion are two other pillars of the practice. In other work, the team provided an expert opinion and advised on a study on protection and security in electronic communication for the Hessian Ministry of Economy. The firm’s own task force on cyber security, led by Heinickel together with IT expert Holger Lutz and patent lawyer Heiko Haller, is another unique feature. Telefónica is a key client.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has a focus on antitrust matters and transactions, as well as regulatory advice in the telecoms sector. Practice head Thomas Tschentscher leads a team advising Vodafone on regulatory frameworks for the provision of mobile and fixed-network services, including assisting with 5G frequency auctions, regulatory questions in connection with fees, and vectoring II and layer 2 bitstream matters. Norbert Nolte is leading a team representing 1&1-Telecom in a range of matters, including numerous regulatory proceedings before the court and the authorities and in negotiations with various network operators. UnityMedia Hessen, a DAX coporation and a global technology company are also clients. Also noteworthy is the firm’s patent practice, which acts for numerous telecoms clients.
Noerr’s ‘very good’ team provides ‘a top service level’ and has ‘phenomenal business sense and outstanding industry expertise’ in the telecoms sector. The ‘extraordinarily high expertise both at a technical level and in terms of negotiation strategies’ makes the practice an ‘excellent’ choice. In the regulatory area, highlights included handling various matters for Deutsche Telekom, including representing the client in an action at the Administrative Court of Cologne concerning a regulatory order on market 3b, representation in proceedings concerning the client’s reference interconnection offer regarding the utilisation of layer 2 bitstream for next generation access (LSA-BSA) and regular advice on the application of access claims under DigiNetzG (the law governing the expansion of the extra-high voltage grid). In the transactional arena, the firm assisted an infrastructure fund with the attempted acquisition of an optical fibre network operator and telecoms company. The team’s litigation expertise was in evidence in its representation of HD Plus in proceedings at the Bavarian Higher Administrative Court concerning the disclosure requirements according to media and communications law. The practice also handles data protection and contract law matters. ‘Outstanding’ practice head Tobias Frevert ‘quickly gets to the crux of the problem’ and ‘provides very business- and solution-oriented advice’. Tobias Bosch is another key contact. The ‘very good’ Pascal Schumacher and Julian von Lucius were promoted to the partnership in January 2018. Michael Bergmann joined Raue in September 2018. The German collecting society and performance rights organisation Gema, GTT Communications and Inmarsat are other clients.
Bird & Bird’s telecoms practice focuses on the high-tech sector, where, in addition to traditional telecoms law issues, the firm also increasingly handles matters at the intersection with ICT projects. Broadband expansion and investments in communcations infrastructure projects are also part of the team’s workload as well as advice on OTT services – providers in this space make up a substantial part of the client base, in addition to network operators and mobile virtual network operators. 450Connect, Telefónica and CenturyLink Communications Germany are key clients. The group represented internet exchange point operator DE-CIX Management in an action against the Federal Republic of Germany regarding the admissibility of strategic telephone tapping. Practice head Sven-Erik Heun and counsel Valerian Jenny make up the core team.
Practice head Jens Neitzel leads the team at CMS, which saw an increase in instructions concerning transactions in the telecoms sector, with headline work in this area including its advice to Sunrise Communications on the sale of Swiss Towers. The firm also remains highly active in the regulatory field, including successfully representing Unitymedia in an action at the Higher Court and Regional Higher Court of Cologne concerning whether the client is allowed to install and provide other Unitymedia clients with a second WLAN network on routers left to clients without the clients’ permission. The firm also acted for Vodafone Kabel Deutschland in an action against Telekom Deutschland pertaining to a dispute regarding fraudulent price reduction for the joint use of cable systems. Other key matters revolved around local loop fees, VDSL 2 vectoring and fibre-optic expansion. Breko-Servicegesellschaft, EWE TEL and e.discom Telekommunikation are among its other clients.
Dolde Mayen & Partner
Dolde Mayen & Partner has comprehensive expertise in regulatory matters in the telecoms area. The boutique firm, which has offices in Bonn and Stuttgart, has a stellar reputation largely due to its regular representation of Deutsche Telekom. The firm handles proceedings surrounding reference offers, access and fees and also advises on frequency allocation and data storage matters. The team is also seeing a growing demand for advice on matters related to the DigiNetzG, and funding law matters. Key contacts include name partner Thomas Mayen, Frank Hölscher, Barbara Stamm and Christian Stelter.
Jones Day’s telecoms practice has a key focus on providing regulatory advice; practice head Holger Neumann has broad experience in this field. The firm’s workload ranges from handling proceedings at the Federal Network Agency on regulation of fees, frequency allocation procedures and termination charges to advising satellite providers and OTT providers. Another pillar of the practice is IoT projects, particularly in connection with drones and autonomous driving. Highlights included representing Google in administrative court proceedings against the Federal Network Agency concerning the reporting requirements of Gmail; the key question was submitted by the Higher Administrative Court of Münster at the ECJ via a referral decision. The team is also able to leverage the firm’s international presence, and recently advised an international technology company on the global regulatory frameworks for a new WAN service. Other clients include Verizon Deutschland, Deutschlandradio and Communication Services Tele 2.
BEITEN BURKHARDT has a strong presence in the mobile sector, where it advised on multiple new matters for international providers, as well as those operating in Germany. It is increasingly sought out to advise on matters at the intersection of telecoms and data protection, including on business models based on data analysis, and is gaining traction in matters pertaining to telecoms infrastructure. Practice head Mathias Zimmer-Goertz provided comprehensive advice to MobiChord on its market entry in Germany, including assisting with the data protection compliant processing of telecoms data and the cooperation with a large German telecoms service provider regarding the management of communication infrastructure. Other clients include Verivox, Dimoco Europe and Axcom. Claudio Chirco joined PwC in March 2018.
Greenberg Traurig Germany stands out for regularly advising large real estate companies on business models in the telecoms area. Practice head Christoph Enaux assisted degewo netzWerk with pubic tenders for broadband and multimedia provision and advised Gesobau on the development of new concepts for FTTH (fibre to the home) provision for portfolios of new buildings, among other matters. Another core focus is project advice, where the firm has telecoms, media and antitrust experience. A highlight in the cable network space was acting for Vonovia on contracts with several cable network operators, particularly cable license agreements and the integration of new property portfolios. In January 2018, Niklas Conrad, who focuses on litigation, was promoted to the partnership and Carsten Kociok, who is a key name for regulatory matters, was made counsel.
Albrecht Conrad, Wolfgang Spoerr and counsel Fabian Seip are key names at Hengeler Mueller, which has the resources to handle regulatory issues and transactional matters in the telecoms industry. The team acts for telecoms providers, where it handles disputes with network operators surrounding requirements according to service provider contracts, and advises on mobile frequency tenders. In another highlight, it assisted Vodafone Kabel Deutschland with new TV transmission contracts with public service broadcasters.
Boutique firm Juconomy Rechtsanwälte, which focuses on telecoms law, handles contentious and non-contentious matters, with particular expertise in regulatory matters. The team was kept busy advising on data protection issues in the run up to the GDPR coming into force in May 2018. It also has strength assisting infrastructure providers with projects pertaining to fibre optic network expansion and matters surrounding the DigiNetzG. Peter Schmitz represented 01051 Telecom in a constitutional complaint challenging various obligations relating to data retention and Jens Schulze acted for Wiesche Streithelferin Drillisch in two actions opposing the merger clearance for Telefónica and E-Plus at the CFI. Martin Geppert represented M-net NetCologne in preliminary proceedings and actions against the Federal Network Agency’s regulatory order on vectoring. Other clients include EWE TEL, Lycamobile and several cable network operators.
Loschelder’s practice has a clear focus on regulatory matters, including advice on feed-in contracts and data protection and assisting clients with issues around broadband supply and wireless local loops (WLL). Kristina Schreiber was part of the team led by practice head Raimund Schütz that represented ARD broadcasting corporations in actions brought by Kabel Deutschland concerning the continuation of the terminated cable transmission contract before three Higher Regional Courts and the Federal Court of Justice. In other work, the team acted for Vodafone in several landmark proceedings on data protection. QVC Handel is another client.
McDermott Will & Emery Rechtsanwälte Steuerberater LLP’s team is particularly well positioned with its experience in telecoms law at the intersection with media and technology matters. Ralf Weisser, who heads the practice together with Wolfgang von Frentz, and counsel Claus Färber advised Deutsche Telekom on cooperation agreements with Inmarsat regarding the European Aviation Network, which equips aeroplanes with WLAN. The firm also represented Deutschlandradio in proceedings against Unitymedia relating to the continued payment of cable feed-in fees after cancellation within the stipulated time period. In another highlight, the team secured the prohibition of smart TV functions through Exaring for ProSiebenSat.1 at preliminary injunction proceedings at the Regional Court of Munich; the crucial point in the proceedings concerned the delineation of IPTV from OTT services in closed-cable networks.
Morrison & Foerster LLP
In addition to its expertise in traditional telecoms matters, Morrison & Foerster LLP provides high-level advice at the intersection between telecoms and broadcasting law. Highlights included advice on broadcasting infrastructure, OTT services and 5G mobile frequency allocation. In other work, the group was kept busy advising on the elimination of roaming fees within the EU in 2017 and on the structuring of large projects for broadband and fibre optic network expansions. The team is led by Andreas Grünwald and Christoph Wagner. Clients include 1&1 Telecom, Sky Deutschland and Primevest Capital Partners Deutschland.
Raue has in-depth experience providing telecoms companies with regulatory and competition advice. In stand-out work, the group provides regulatory advice to Divicon Media on the sale of FM transmitter aerials by former owner Media Broadcast after the latter had sold all transmit antennas to financial investors that, at the time, were yet to receive regulatory clearance, which subsequently increased the cost of atenna access. Practice head Kornelius Kleinlein acted for Divicon in this matter particularly with regard to contract negotiations with the investors and also represented the client in regulatory procedures at the Federal Network Agency and the Federal Cartel Office. The firm also acts for Vodafone in administrative court proceedings against the authorisation of the subscriber line rates 2016 and in an administrative court action against the authorisation of the CVF (carrier fixed connection) ethernet rates 2014. Senior associate Daniel Schubert is also recommended. Michael Bergmann joined from Noerr in September 2018.
The core of White & Case LLP’s practice centres on two areas: advising cable providers Telecolumbus and Unitymedia and providing project-based assistance. It is representing Unitymedia in its dispute with public service broadcasters in order to resolve the future shaping of transmission contracts before the civil and administrative courts and the Federal Cartel Office. Other highlights include advising on the regulation of connected car products, OTT services and data use. The key contacts are practice head Norbert Wimmer and Martin Munz. Sylvia Lorenz was promoted to local partner in January 2018.