Telecommunications company

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A telecommunications company has the task of converting, transmitting and conveying information in global networks in order to enable communication between people at any time, any place. This is made possible by a communication system .

In particular, the liberalization of the telecommunications markets in Europe in 1998 led to the emergence of different types of telecommunications companies that differ significantly from one another in terms of their value creation processes and their position on the market .

Telecommunications technology - the basis of telecommunications companies

The basis for the existence of all today's telecommunications companies were technical developments in the 19th century: The ideas of Charles Wheatstone , William Fothergill Cooke and Samuel FB Morse initially laid the foundation for the long-distance transmission of coded messages, the telegraphy , in 1837 . The development of the marketable telephone by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876, followed by the invention of the carbon microphone by Thomas Alva Edison Jr. In 1877 improvements were made to make telephony possible. With the invention of the amplifier tube by Robert von Lieben in 1906, the creation of the technical basis for the establishment of nationwide telecommunications networks was largely completed.

State telecommunications as the predecessor of today's European telecommunications companies

The management of the telecommunications system as a state administration and its fundamental importance for the whole of social life quickly led to a nationwide organization in most European countries. Services of general interest were formulated according to which certain minimum telecommunications services were to be offered throughout the country on the same terms .

The area-wide presence and the area-wide range of services led to an administrative structure with largely standardized organizational units.

Alongside the post office and the railways , the telecommunications administrations were the largest state organizations in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century.

After the abolition of monopolies due to the liberalization of the European telecommunications market in 1998, the regulatory authorities took on the task of ensuring real competition . In this way, the variety of offers on the market for voice telephony and value-added voice services has increased significantly.

Value creation processes in telecommunications

The provision of services by telecommunications companies is very complex. Different levels of added value are generated both by vertically integrated companies and by institutionally separate units. The company's core value creation is flanked by IT and marketing activities .

The first stage is the transport level . It includes the lines and the transmission technology . Rights of way are the basis for construction and operation .

The second level is the mediation level . It includes the switching technology ( switches ), the connection points of other network operators ( Point of Interconnection , POI) and the connection points to the customers ( Point of Presence , POP).

In modern digital networks, voice and data run over the same physical networks. Routers take over the function of switches for data . The network infrastructure outlined provides the basis for a wide range of voice and data communication on the service level, with a distinction being made between basic and value-added services .

A well-known example of basic voice services is ISDN telephony. The Internet and the access provided for it, as well as internetworking between local networks, are examples of pure data services. Voice and data services are merging more and more thanks to IP -based technology. Value-added services include, for example, 0800 and 0900 numbers, televoting and special server and gateway services. The range of multimedia content on the web ( content ) is of increasing importance in the added value area .

The operation of the networks and the range of services requires network management , i.e. a service level with which network operation can be monitored, controlled and implemented using the records of the connections provided (call data records) and authorization checks and assignments.

Network management is the basis for invoicing customers (new German: Billing ) and for the design of computer-aided end devices (new German: Front-Ends for) customer care (New German: Customer Care ). Closely related to the end device is the question of the uniform range of services under one brand (branding).

The provision of services by a telecommunications company also requires other, quite significant and comprehensive support functions. Examples are purchasing , finance , human resources, legal, resource management, including land, buildings, and internal information processing infrastructure.

The final level of value creation is the sales level , which is supposed to market the company's services differentiated according to markets and customers through the right combination of product , price , sales channel and advertising ( marketing mix ).

Classification of telecommunications companies based on value added

The value chain shown allows telecommunications companies to be classified into four types, with some types being able to operate nationwide as well as only regionally.

Type / level transport Mediation services distribution
Network operator x x x x
Switched reseller   x x x
Reseller     x x
Dealer       x

Telecommunications network operators are classic telecommunications companies that carry out all stages of value creation, such as Deutsche Telekom or France Telecom . Often emerging from a former state telecommunications administration, a classic telecommunications company plans, builds and operates networks itself, offers switching functions and acts as a "full service provider", ie as a provider of a complete range of telecommunications and IT services and products. The existence of at least one network operator is a prerequisite for the existence of the other types of telecommunications companies.

Switched resellers buy transport services from a network operator, but take on switching functions themselves. You generate offers and value-added services yourself and save yourself long-term investments in networks.

Resellers also buy the brokerage function. Their focus is mostly on highly specialized value-added services. They typically have a high level of marketing skills. The cell phone providers are an example here .

Dealers forego their own technical infrastructures and service offerings entirely. They market the services of other telecommunications companies and offer terminals from various manufacturers for using the services.

Influence on telecommunications companies through globalization and convergence

The characteristics of a telecommunications company are shaped by:

  • International participation and organizational structure as well
  • Convergence.

International participation and organizational structure

The liberalization of the markets and the privatization of the former state telecommunications administrations allow the large network operators to operate internationally. The organizational consequence of globalization is the transition from nationally oriented monolithic corporate structures to a network of affiliated companies and holdings, which in different legal forms form a large group. It is a characteristic of large international corporations that several legally independent companies are under the same management and form an economic and organizational unit. The main task of management is to implement a uniform group strategy. Depending on the degree of autonomy that group units have, a distinction is made between operational holding, management holding and financial holding.

In the operational holding company, the group headquarters takes on both strategic and operational management of the business areas. In the financial holding company, the corporate headquarters only defines the investment objectives of the otherwise independently operating companies. In the management holding company, the group headquarters exerts influence on the strategic management of the group units, but remains outside the operational management. Depending on the type of holding, the organization of the corporate headquarters and the decentralized units have different tasks and scope for design.


Convergence describes, on the one hand, the merging of previously independent networks, services, products and, as a result, markets and, on the other hand, the merging of information and telecommunications technology. The basis for the convergence is the digitization of the universal global telecommunications network, the media and the devices for their use. Until the late 1980s , the history of telecommunications technology was largely the history of analog signal processing. Specific networks and terminals were provided for individual services. At the end of the 1980s, based on rapidly developing digital technology, the transition from analog to digital networks began. Today digital content can be transmitted in a wide variety of ways; the decisive factor is no longer the type of transmission, but only the transmission capacity.

Summary characteristics of a telecommunications company

In its full expression, a telecommunications company is therefore:

  • a provider of both IT and telecommunications-specific and convergence products
  • on the international market,
  • which is set up as a large corporation and
  • possibly managed by a holding company,
  • through a comprehensive, multi-level and standardized area organization
    • at least in the home country and
    • has differentiated, country-specific organizations abroad,
  • of his achievements
    • market, sector and customer oriented and
    • provides in a mix of vertical integration and outsourced service,
  • The entire value chain from the transport of information to the distribution of differentiated IT / TC services and products is covered.


In Germany, telecommunications companies are due to their inadequate customer relationship management and customer service , inadmissible contract clauses , inadmissible unilateral contract changes , their aggressive, sometimes unfair sales methods (especially in door-to-door sales through columns of pushers , telephone sales ( cold calls ), direct marketing ), value-added service and dialer abuse , Billing of connections in the event that the participant cannot be reached , due to collection failures and the billing of third-party providers (for whom it is disputed whether contracts have been concluded at all) are targeted by critical consumers and consumer advocates. In 2006, for example, the Brandenburg consumer center complained that the consumer complaints submitted to it mainly concern telecommunications companies.

In the field of the registration-free call-by-call market (especially also for Internet-by-call), in which there is no contractual obligation, there are also the phenomena of short-term announced or unannounced tariff changes and the extreme minute price spreads in tariff and time zones which bears no relation to input costs are and the purpose have the consumer by individual signal rates below the IC fees to move to permanent indiscriminate use of offers also high-priced tariff times and destinations. Therefore, since the amendment to the Telecommunications Act in May 2012, the prices have to be announced at the beginning of the call for call-by-call, but not for Internet-by-call.

In the area of flat-rate offers for private consumers, some providers are characterized by the fact that they assume unauthorized commercial use from a mostly arbitrarily defined scope of use ( power user ) and that they ask customers to restrict their use or try to terminate the contract .

Individual evidence

  1. Alone against the Telekom - customers are harassed,1872,3996085,00.html ( Memento from May 11, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  2. OLG Koblenz: Asymmetrical notice period for DSL flat rate contracts of 1 & 1 not permitted ( Memento from December 26, 2003 in the Internet Archive )
  3. Mobilcom does not invoice the agreed minimum turnover ( Memento from November 10, 2002 in the Internet Archive )
  4. ^ O2 contract amendment when the euro is introduced illegally Archived copy ( memento from April 20, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  5. Unilateral contract changes by T-Online illegally
  6. Consumer Federation sued Telekom for tucked underneath contracts ( Memento of 27 September 2007 at the Internet Archive )
  7. Consumer advocates criticize criminal activities in telecommunications contracts§ion=Marketing-News ( Memento from July 10, 2006 in the Internet Archive )
  8. ^ Preselection contracts put under
  9. Telekom convicted of telephone spam
  10. VZ Bayern: Cell phone rip-off by 0137 numbers Archived copy ( Memento from May 8, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
  11. VZ Brandenburg: Profit can be expensive Archived copy ( Memento from April 3, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
  12. VZ Berlin takes action against dialer abuseüberszentrale-Berlin- geht-gegen-Dialer-Anbieter-vor- 93893.html
  13. VZ BW: Call Info Service from Vodafone: up to 9.90 euros for ten unsuccessful calls Archived copy ( memento from September 24, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  14. Dubious Telekom warnings,1872,2294553,00.html ( Memento from December 25, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  15. Callando-Internet-by-Call-Falschabrechnung
  16. Tiscali outraged old customers with old billsört_Ex-Kunden_mit_alten_Rechnungen
  18. ^ VZ Brandenburg: complaints mainly from the telecommunications sector
  19. Unscrupulous business practices in the telecommunications industry block consumer advice centers ( Memento from September 27, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  20. ZDF Wiso: Tricks by Call,1872,3965421,00.html ( Memento from December 12, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  21. surf100 increases the price of Internet-by-call tariffs without prior notice up to 89 times
  22. Internet-by-call: tariff games and no end
  23. Article on
  24. Teltarif: if the flat rate breaks its promise
  25. 1 & 1 and Kabel Deutschland take action against broadband flat rate customers with high data volumes,kzi2sdisimm85x8w~cm.asp ( Memento from February 4, 2006 in the Internet Archive )