Thursday, September 19, 2013

New Opposition to EC "Connected Continent" Plan

Virtually nothing in the realm of communications policy is without controversy. So it is that an association of national European regulators has expressed “concern” about the “rush” to get new regulations through the European legislature.

The Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) says it is concerned that the proposed regulation is being rushed through the European legislature “without proper explanation and full exploration of its potential consequences, given that the proposals represent a shift away from the current approach (based on pro-competitive regulation) towards one that favors market consolidation.”

BEREC also argues the proposed European Union proposals to streamline regulation across the EU will increase risk, undermine national authority and reduce the likelihood of increased investment in next generation network facilities.

To be sure, controversy is normal whenever major changes in telecom regulation are proposed.

Service providers can be expected to object to the eventual end of roaming fees, provisions that will take revenue and profit out of international calling. Regulators might not support more centralization of spectrum policies and regulatory authority.

The “Connected Continent” proposal will upset some policy advocates who will not be pleased with the approach to network neutrality (allowing creation of managed services).

And many will continue to wonder where and how the funds to invest in next generation infrastructure will be found.

The “Connected Continent” plan, created by Vice President for the European Commission Neelie Kroes, might actually depress European service provider investment in next generation infrastructure, according to Strand Consult.

The main problem, perhaps, is that the proposal continues to favor “competition” at the expense of “investment.”

The proposal “will create price wars between operators, which will deliver lower prices for consumers in the short term, but remove incentives for operators to invest long term,” argues John Strand, Strand Consult principal.

BEREC says it also is concerned that the proposals represent a substantial shift in the balance of power between the Commission, member states and national regulatory authorities,
centralizing authority at the EC.

“These proposals risk undermining the ability of national regulators, whether acting individually or collectively, to take appropriate and proportionate regulatory action in all the relevant markets,” BEREC maintains.

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