INTUG Position on the EC’s Proposals Following the Framework Review

INTUG welcomes the European Commission’s proposals for revision of the European Regulatory Framework for Telecommunications. Whilst applauding the EU’s progress in the last decade towards an open and competitive telecommunications market, the business users which INTUG represent are still unable to obtain the seamless services within all Member States, or across the EU, that they need to support efficient ICT investment.

It is generally accepted that there is no single market in telecommunications in the EU, nor is there any prospect of one under current arrangements. There is a fragmented market of 27 independent and inconsistent jigsaw pieces, upon which industries and businesses have to build their ICT environments.

Effective interworking of IT applications throughout the extended supply chain of business partnerships in different company sites therefore all too often requires some form of dedicated “private” network, since neither the public Internet nor ISP offerings provide adequate access, quality and reliability.

Regulation has failed to ensure non-discriminatory availability of wholesale inputs from incumbent operators, which must be used when such networks cover multiple Member States. As a result, supply of pan-European business services is unnecessarily slow and expensive and, in some cases, simply impossible. Competition in the supply of such services is non-existent.

The problem applies equally to fixed and mobile services, and is made worse by the increasing needs of business to use fixed/mobile converged services.

This highly unsatisfactory situation is seriously handicapping the attempts of EU businesses to boost their productivity by re-engineering business processes and restructuring operations fully throughout Europe. Many potential benefits associated with the EU Single Market are therefore denied them, and consequently European competitiveness is being damaged.

It may be thought by some that the advent of next generation networks and access services provides an ideal opportunity for solving these problems.

Regrettably, there is a serious risk of the reverse happening. It is feared that, unless the right regulatory framework is established, with adequate power structures for enforcement, the progress made in establishing competition in some markets will be foreclosed by monopolies in bottleneck infrastructure.

This is why INTUG welcomes the proposed regulatory reforms and urges their full adoption by the European Parliament. They are needed to create a market in which there is competitive provision of pan-EU communication services in fixed and mobile. This must be based on providing more effective remedies, ensuring their application through streamlining of appeals procedures, and creating consistency of regulation and greater harmonisation of services.

INTUG believes the proposals are interdependent, with each element of the recommendations necessary for the desired outcome. INTUG believes that strengthening of the proposals in some areas, for example by reducing the conditions required to justify functional separation, could be of benefit.

It would also be wholly inappropriate to limit the application of functional separation to legacy networks, since it is via the next generation access infrastructure that there is the greatest threat to effective competition.

The open and competitive availability of high speed, high quality resilient broadband access services throughout the EU – not just in city business districts and major metropolitan areas – will contribute significantly to the achievement of the Lisbon i2010 goals. It will enable businesses to operate more energy-efficiently, and facilitate a more inclusive world in which all European citizens can participate fully in the global information society.

INTUG therefore urges the European Parliament to approve the European Commission’s proposals for future EU telecommunications regulation.

Read the full document with detailed comments on specific proposals.

Source: INTUG

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