Deutsche Telekom Can’t Curb Flat-Rate Data Speed, Court Says

Deutsche Telekom AG’s plan to throttle the speed of fixed-line Internet access when customers on flat-rate plans surpass a certain data volume was struck down by a German court.

The standard terms are unfair on customers, the Cologne Regional Court said in an e-mailed statement today. The case was brought by a consumer protection association. Deutsche Telekom shares fell 2.2 percent to 11.53 euros in Frankfurt today.

“The average customer understands ’flat-rate’ to mean a fixed price for a certain access speed and doesn’t expect any limitations,” the court said. “The relationship between service and payment would be palpably disturbed.”

Deutsche Telekom said in April it would limit access speed to 384 kilobits per second after users reached a maximum data volume, citing increasing traffic and network-rollout costs as the reason. The move caused a public outcry and the company later raised the limit to 2 megabits per second. The policy was planned to be implemented in 2016.

The ruling is “incomprehensible” and Deutsche Telekom is likely to appeal, company spokesman Philipp Blank said in an e-mailed statement.

The case is LG Koeln, 26 O 211/13.