Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Europe Reaches Agreement on Telecoms Reform

The European Parliament and the European Council reached an agreement on a Telecoms package aimed at strengthening consumer protections in the broadband market. The full package of regulatory reform have been under discussion for years, but recently negotiations became snagged by the issue of copyright piracy.

Under a compromise agreement over amendment 138, which had been the stumbling block, Internet users accused of copyright infringements cannot be cut off from their Internet connection without a "fair and impartial procedure" rather than a court proceeding. The deal clears the way for the European Parliament to adopt the full Telecoms Package.

The full Telecoms Package calls for the creation of a single, independent European Telecom Market Authority accountable to the European Parliament. This new authority would ensure that the 27 national regulators work as an efficient team on creating a seamless telecoms market across Europe. The new regulator would facilitate cross-border EU services in relation to rights-of-use for scarce resources such as spectrum and numbers, and enabling operators wishing to do so to use a single European area code for their services. It is also expected to play a role in opening markets still dominated by an incumbent player.

In order for the Telecoms package to come into force, the European parliament and the Council have to confirm the agreement. This is expected to happen before the end this month.

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