Thursday, November 22, 2007

European Operators Take Skeptical View of Proposed EU Telecom Reforms

At the 5th annual conference of the European Telecommunications Network Operators' Association (ETNO) last week in Brussels, the CEOs of leading EU telecoms operators held a debate on the recent European Commission proposals for a review of the EU telecoms rules. The CEOs agreed that EU policy makers would do better by focusing on how to encourage private investment in high-speed broadband access networks rather than focusing mainly on how to achieve functional separation of the incumbent operators' wholesale and retail operations.

Speaking at the conference Mr. Bojan Dremelj, President of the Management Board of Telekom Slovenije, raised a number of serious questions regarding the direction where regulation is going and stated: "There is no need for overregulation which will reduce all of us to a 'grey average'. How can we ever become the most competitive economy in the world if we are stifling innovation? If we cut the wings of our big players, aren't we cutting the 'branch on which we are sitting'? Is this what Europe is aiming for?"

ETNO members welcomed the proposal by the European Commission for a more flexible management of radio spectrum to boost the deployment of wireless applications. They also noted the reduction in the number of markets to be subject to regulatory intervention but regretted that at the same time the European Commission is extending regulatory intervention to new technology, including risky fibre-based broadband access networks.

  • Earlier this month, The European Commission officially adopted proposals for a reform of the EU telecoms rules with the aim of creating a single European telecom market with a consistent set of regulations covering consumers in all 27 EU Member States. The plan calls for a new European Telecom Market Authority to govern national telecoms regulators in ensuring that market rules and consumer regulation are applied consistently, independently and without protectionism. To become law, the Commission proposals will now need to be approved by the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers. The European Commission believes the approval could be attained by the end of 2009.

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