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EU Regulators Seek Delay to New Broadband and Telecoms Measures

Monday, October 21st, 2013 (9:59 am) - Score 816
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The Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications, which represents national telecoms regulators (e.g. Ofcom in the UK) across the EU, has called upon the European Commission to delay its Single Telecoms Market reform because, they claim, it fails to take correct account of actual NGA broadband coverage, service speeds, prices and 4G investment etc.

The EC’s official proposal for the construction of a new EU Single Telecoms Market (detailed summary) claims that it would deliver cheaper mobile roaming charges, boost superfast Next Generation Access (NGA) broadband development and safeguard open internet access (Net Neutrality).

However BEREC warns that some of the proposals would be “counterproductive” and the EC had “not adequately demonstrated that its proposals would generate value“. Instead the regulatory mega group wants a “comprehensive consultation and careful analysis” of the strategy, which would almost certainly push the plans out of the remaining legislative term.

BEREC Statement

In order to allow for a proper reflection on the impact of these complex wide-ranging proposals to ensure a future-proof sector regulatory environment, these issues could alternatively form part of the next review of the entire electronic communications framework, during the next parliamentary term.

BEREC remains committed to helping deliver real tangible benefits to the European communications sector, and to ensuring that the achievements of the 2009 EU Framework (notably around the promotion of competition and the consumer benefit in the EU) are not inadvertently undermined by undue haste in legislative reform.”

According to BEREC, the EC’s plan “overlooks” the fact that actual average broadband download speeds in the EU are “significantly higher than in the US” and that the roll-out of NGA broadband in Europe, especially within the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands, has shown a rapid increase over the past year.

Furthermore the group notes that 4G investment and deployment by the main mobile operators is progressing at a similar pace and, in terms of prices for fixed broadband services, “European markets appear strongly competitive” (note: the UK is one of the cheapest in the world for both mobile and fixed line services).

BEREC also states that the plan to protect open Internet access required “proper consideration as it raises concerns around enforceability … Any legal obligation imposed on ISPs should be based on a reasonable interpretation of the quality expected for the transportation of applications, i.e. a “best effort” performance.”

In short, BEREC believes that Europe’s telecoms market is healthier than the EC thinks. Never the less Neelie Kroes, the Vice President for the European Commission, appears keen to push the measures through and is battling to have them ready in time for Easter 2014. But she continues to face stiff opposition from mobile operators and the addition of concerns from national regulators might prove too significant to ignore.

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Mark Jackson
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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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