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EC Outlines Plans for Telecom Single Market Reform
Source: telecompaper.com
Source Date: Monday, September 09, 2013
Focus: Internet Governance
Country: Europe
Created: Sep 18, 2013

he European Commission has released initial details of the telecom reform package to be presented on 11 September. According to a brief from Digital Agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes's office, the legislation aims to enable a single market for telecom services in the EU, in order to accelerate economic growth, create jobs and restore Europe's lead in mobile technology.
 
The proposal would see an increase in the EC's powers to coordinate regulation of the sector, including the right to review national plans for releasing and auctioning spectrum and the power to force national regulators to withdraw rules that violate EU law.

The legislation maintains the existing caps on roaming prices, including the next planned reduction in 2014, and would also require incoming calls when roaming in the EU to be free from 2014. To stimulate further reductions in roaming prices, the EC plans to encourage operators to create EU-wide bundles. This would be helped by plans to introduce a new cross-border 'passport', to allow operations across the EU after the authorisation of just one national regulator. The EC also wants to see the price of fixed-line calls to other EU countries decline, to the same level as a domestic long-distance call.

The proposal also continues the EC's efforts to standardise wholesale broadband access regulation in the EU and introduces new criteria for wholesale regulation, such as the need for all national decisions to promote investment and for market analyses to consider competitive services such as 'over-the-top' providers when planning new regulation. In addition, the EC wants a full harmonisation of consumer protection rules, in order to prevent the "endless tailoring" by national regulators.

To encourage the quicker release of spectrum, the EC wants common rules for authorising the use of spectrum, and will also promote incentives to encourage market players to release spectrum for mobile broadband. Licences could also be revoked if not used, under the proposal. Operators would also be allowed to share and trade spectrum, as part of efforts to encourage infrastructure trading.

The legislation also addresses the issue of 'net neutrality' via a ban on blocking or throttling of competing services. In addition, operators would need to be more transparent about the actual broadband speeds provided and end their "misleading advertising". However, they would still have the right to offer higher or guaranteed speeds at an increased price to customers in need of a premium service.

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