Wednesday, September 11, 2013

European "Single Telecom Market" Proposals Coming Soon

We are likely to learn, on about Sept. 12, 2013, in some detail, how European Community regulators want to create a more unified and single communications market within the EC region.

It isn’t yet clear, for example, how regulatory authority will work. It is not expected there will be a call to replace 28 national regulatory bodies with a single EC regulator. If for no other reason, that decision dodges a certain to be controversial issue.

The proposal is expected to take steps to elminate the difference between local calls made in-country and long distance calls made to other EC member nations. Mandated significant reductions in roaming rates appear to have been dropped from the proposal, though the proposed rules still will have the effect of lower prices for out of country calls within the EC.

“We need to extend the same formula to other areas: mobility, communications, energy, finance and e-commerce, to name but a few,” said José Manuel Durão Barroso, European Commission president.

“We will formally adopt a proposal that gives a push towards a single market for telecoms,” Barroso said. “Isn't it a paradox that we have an internal market for goods but when it comes to digital market we have 28 national markets?”

For European service providers, perhaps the biggest issue, aside from the possibility of drastically lower roaming revenues, is whether the “single market” will extend to a single market for service providers, in terms of easier ability to merge and consolidate national entities.

Many would argue that European service providers are experiencing financial difficulties because their operations are too fragmented and lack scale. In principle, a single telecom regulatory framework could clear the way for relatively rapid consolidation that would improve operator finances.

The single market principles aim to reduce complexity by creating common frameworks everywhere within the European Community nations, and allow service providers to more flexibly operate outside home markets.

The proposal also would create a network neutrality framework that some might say is not draconian. The proposal combines two elements.

ISPs would be barred from blocking and throttling lawful content.

On the other hand, the proposal allows reasonable traffic management measures to minimize the effects of temporary or exceptional network congestion. Some would say those are sensible proposals.

Significantly, the proposal also would allow ISPs to create and offer services with a defined quality of service or dedicated capacity.

Many opponents of network neutrality might find that formulation worthy of support.

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