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EU Telecoms Regulators Support Plan to Boost Broadband Investment

Tuesday, Mar 12th, 2013 (10:27 am) - Score 592

The Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications (BEREC), which represents Europe’s national telecoms regulators (e.g. Ofcom in the UK), has given its preliminary support to new EU rules that are intended to boost investment and competition in the roll-out of superfast broadband ISP services.

The proposals, which were first outlined in July 2012 (here) and are intended to apply until “at least 2020“, are designed to support Europe’s current Digital Agenda strategy that among other things aims to make superfast broadband speeds of 30Mbps+ available to 100% of the EU by 2020.

In order to do that Europe needs to ensure that its regulatory policy can support “consistent non-discrimination obligations and costing methodologies to promote competition“, which would work to “enhance the broadband investment environment“.

The rules are thus designed to stop incumbents, such as BT in the UK, from gaining “an unfair advantage“, as many rival ISPs often complain, albeit without imposing too much intervention that could “constrain flexibility“.

But ensuring fair competition is no easy task. In particular the European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ECTA), which represents smaller ISPs, fears that the European Commission’s (EC) approach is not strict enough and would still allow incumbents to retain too much control over the Next Generation Access (NGA) market.

Never the less BEREC has now given its “positive opinion” on the EC’s draft recommendation, which broadly welcomes all of the proposals. “Europe’s regulators share the Commission’s determination to ensure a transparent, predictable, and stable regulatory environment in support of the roll out of NGA networks,” said BEREC in a statement.

Neelie Kroes, VP of the EC, added:

Creating legal predictability is key to boosting competition, innovation and investments in high-speed internet in Europe and creating growth and jobs throughout the economy.

The European Commission has an important role to play in that respect. Last July I announced an important policy initiative to enhance high-speed internet roll-out which we are now translating into legal texts by means of a Recommendation. The positive opinion from BEREC means that we can now move forward to finalise the draft Recommendation.

Let us not forget that high-speed internet represents the basis for Europe’s competitiveness in today’s and, even more so, in tomorrow’s world. It is ‘digital oxygen’ to boost growth and jobs, and the backbone for more efficient businesses both small and large and for more efficient and better public services.”

It’s understood that the draft recommendations will be finalised “in the coming months“, which would hopefully allow it to be adopted sometime during the first half of 2013 (though it could slip into Q3-2013).

But it should be said that most of the proposed changes are aimed at countries that currently have less competitive markets than the UK. Indeed many of Ofcom’s rules are already designed to perform similar feats over this side of the channel, although some continue to question how effective they are.

BEREC’s Opinion on the EC’s Draft Recommendation

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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