EC proposes cheaper broadband
By Stuart Turton
Posted on 14 Nov 2007 at 09:17
The European Commission (EC) has laid out its proposals to create a new, more competitive European telecoms market and is promising "better and cheaper" services, including on broadband and mobile phones.
Of particular interest to Ofcom, the UK telecoms watchdog which recently got into a spat with the EC over its proposals for a pan-European telecoms authority, will be the EC's promise to promote investment in new communication infrastructures, something the regulator is still eying nervously.
The EC say its proposals will "strengthen the right of consumers to choose and change their broadband provider, lead to better and faster broadband services, and lower consumer prices."
"From today onwards, a single market without borders for Europe's telecoms operators and consumers is no longer only a dream," says José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission.
"Telecoms is a field where our single market can bring about very concrete results for every citizen in terms of more choice and lower prices, whether for mobile phones or for broadband internet connections."
"At the same time, a single market with 500 million consumers opens new opportunities for telecoms operators - if Europe helps to ensure effective competition and consistent rules of the game."
The "Telecoms Reform Package" still has to be approved by the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers, however, it is expected to become law by 2009.
Among its more interesting features the EC says it will be looking at "better managing" radio spectrum to ensure broadband access for those in rural areas and strengthening the independence of national telecoms watchdogs from operators and governments alike, with a new European Telecom Market Authority (ETMA), which will keep an eye on the 27 member countries.
Responding to the proposals, Ofcom spokesperson Ed Knight says, "There are a number of areas where Ofcom agrees with the Commission, for example the importance of independent regulation, the need for greater co-ordination of regulation to support the promotion of the single market."
"There are concerns with the idea of the new European body - the "European Telecom Market Authority". Our view is that the existing European Regulators Group (ERG) is a slimmer and more cost-effective body, which can be strengthened to deliver on this role much more quickly and efficiently than if we wait European legislation due to be finalised in 2010/11."
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