Neelie Kroes Replies to INTUG’s Letter on Single Market Plans

EC Vice President Neelie Kroes replied to the letter INTUG sent to the commission in September.

Ms. Kroes underscores that it "is important to act quickly with a pragmatic approach tackling the specific identified bottlenecks on the basis of the current framework as its fundamental principles remain valid".

In its September letter, INTUG raised 10 concerns:

  1. The business market requires special measures and attention.
  2. Infrastructure-based competition is no longer sufficient; we need service-based competition.
  3. The fragmented international mobile service market hinders our ability to develop cross-border.
  4. Europe should take a leading role in driving initiatives to limit roaming charges on the international level.
  5. Net neutrality is critical (at the same time, however, differentiated service levels need to be accommodated)
  6. We need more information on and confidence in cloud computing.
  7. Data retention and privacy laws need to be harmonized and manageable.
  8. Lack of adequate competition inhibits our ability to react; this includes last-mile connectivity, which mostly is in the hands of the local incumbent operators.
  9. Virtual Network Operators (VNOs) can provide value-added services we need.
  10. A strong BEREC will support harmonization and a stronger, healthier business environment.

Addressing INTUG's concerns, Ms. Kroes points out that one of the objectives of the telecom package is offering opportunities to the telecom sector by making network investment, providing and guaranteeing cross-border services less complex. Harmonization of essential technical inputs like spectrum for wireless networks and access to networks for fixed broadband are two other goals.

The "Single EU authorisation" will allow telecoms providers to deliver services across the EU "without undue administrative burden and provides for enhanced legal consistency", Ms. Kroes notes. New provisions on spectrum coordination "ensure coordinated and timely availability of new wireless technologies, boost interoperability and ensure economies of scale across Europe." And the "harmonised European virtual broadband access products which will provide consumers and businesses which rely on communications services with a wider choice of competitive products of better quality".

The proposal also aims at phasing out roaming charges and excessive rates for international calling between member states, building on the existing roaming regulation. Eliminating charges for incoming roaming calls is a new element.

The EU-wide body of regulators BEREC would have a reinforced role in ensuring consistency of regulation across the EU.

Ms. Kroes agrees with INTUG that "we need a comprehensive set of actions" if we want to seize all opportunities the digital economy brings. Therefore the commission proposes an initiative to boost investment in high-speed internet infrastructure and measures to reduce the cost for deploying high speed networks.

The commissioner then goes into more detail on the proposed privacy and data protection regulation that will be directly applicable in member states, putting an end to different levels of data protection requirements across the EU and thus ensuring legal certainty for stakeholders involved. There will also be one competent authority that businesses processing personal data in various member states will have to deal with.

Ms. Kroes also notes that she is pleased with INTUG's representation in the work of the Cloud Select Industry group on Service Level Agreements and its constructive approach.

The implementation of the new rules would bring more clarity to the terms and conditions for cloud computing services and bring public procurers together to define common requirements and exchange experiences, thereby creating an environment of confidence and expertise for public procurement. And a "'shared data area' would provide for an open and competitive market for cloud computing by removing barriers that prevent or inhibit a free-flow of information between Member States and by establishing the necessary mutual trust", Ms. Kroes writes.

Source: INTUG

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