EU Angers Telecomms

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The European Commission announced Thursday recommendations for revising telecommunications regulations that would force providers to share their cutting-edge broadband infrastructure with rivals and extend regulation to new areas such as text messaging. Unsurprisingly, these recommendations angered telecomm companies: both powerful incumbents, who think they are too restrictive, and their rival new entrants who believe they are too loose. Interestingly, this move is in counterpoint to the U.S., which has removed obligations on telephone operators to share their networks with rivals.

“We must open the markets when they are dominated by dominant players,” EU telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding told a presse conference. “We have seen in all our analysis, where the markets are opened, investments are done and prices go down for consumers.”

On Thursday, Reding also suggested that she is thinking of forcing the former state-run monopolies to separate their services and infrastructure into two separate companies. The infrastructure would then be offered to startup rivals on the same terms as the incumbents’ services divisions. Reding pointed to the U.K., where the national regulator had put in a similar system with BT Group and it had produced in a boom in broadband. “In the United Kingdom, the regulator has opted” for this solution and had a “good experience,” she said. “So why not to look at this good experience and maybe apply it Europe-wide.”

To read the rest of the report on this interesting development in the European telecomm industry, go here.