(RAPID) A public consultation on what is the best approach to ensure that basic telecoms services are available for all EU citizens has been launched by the European Commission. Current EU rules on universal service obligations for telecoms date from 2002 and guarantee that Europeans have access to public telephone networks and to services like basic internet access. The consultation launched today aims to see if these rules and definitions on universal service need to be updated for the digital age, and in particular if they should be extended to cover broadband access. Reactions from consumers, industry stakeholders, and policy experts will help the Commission decide if it needs to present new legislative proposals on universal service obligations for telecoms by end of 2010. The consultation will run until 7 May 2010.
(RAPID) The European Commission has launched a consultation on strategic priorities for an EU radio spectrum policy programme for 2011-2015. Access to radio spectrum is essential for a huge range of activities from telephony and broadcasting through to transport and space applications. Wide and fair access to radio spectrum is crucial to ensure that EU citizens in both urban and rural areas can enjoy the benefits of digital technology. Better use of spectrum could also give Europe's economy a boost since rolling out fast wireless services would enhance competitiveness and growth. Industry, consumers and other stakeholders are invited to respond to the consultation by 9 April. A "Spectrum Summit" held jointly by the Commission and the European Parliament will take place on 22/23 March to discuss Europe's spectrum priorities.
(RAPID) The European Commission has ruled that Polish telecom regulator Urz?d Komunikacji Elektronicznej (UKE) must withdraw its plans to regulate the markets for internet traffic exchange services in Poland. Internet service providers use these data traffic exchange services to connect their customers to the Internet. After a two-month investigation, the Commission has decided that UKE has failed to show that competitive conditions in Poland require the regulation of these markets, which are not regulated elsewhere in the EU.
(RAPDI) Under the Roaming Regulation, mobile phone operators are obliged to offer their customers from 1 March 2010 a monthly cut-off limit of ?50. Customers will receive a warning when they hit 80% of the chosen limit. Until 1 July 2010, customers need to make a deliberate choice in order to benefit from a cut-off limit. Customers who do not make a choice by 1 July 2010 will have the cut-off limit set at ?50 by default as from that date. Thanks to the EU's roaming rules, the price that operators pay each other per megabyte (MB) downloaded has been limited to a safeguard level of 1? per MB, and it will fall over the next two years. These savings should be passed on to consumers and deliver lower prices for surfing the Internet while abroad.
(RAPID) The telecoms regulators of the 27 EU countries have met for the first time in Brussels as members of the new Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC). The new European telecoms regulator BEREC has been established following the adoption by the Council and Parliament of the new EU Telecoms rules in December 2009. See also speeches at the first meeting of the Board of Regulators of BEREC and the Management Committee of the Office 28 January 2010, Egmont Palace Brussels: The important role of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications by Neelie Kroes and Viviane Reding
(RAPID) New EU telecoms rules officially became EU law on 19 December following their publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. The new rules composed of the Better Regulation Directive and the Citizens' Rights Directive will need to be transposed into national laws of the 27 EU Member States by June 2011. The new Regulation establishing the new European Telecoms Authority called "Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC)" is directly applicable and will enter into force in 20 days. BEREC will provide a force for consistent regulation across Europe strengthening the single telecoms market.
(Heise) Absehbare Schlappe für Deutschland und die Telekom: Die von der letzten Bundesregierung im Telekommunikationsgesetz (TKG) verankerten regulatorischen Rahmenbedingungen für neue Netze verstoßen gegen europäisches Recht. Mit diesem Urteil (Az: C-424/07) kippt der Gerichtshof der Europäischen Union (EuGH) in Luxemburg den § 9a des TKG, von Kritikern auch "Lex Telekom" genannt. Diese Regelung nahm neue Märkte grundsätzlich von der Regulierung durch die Bundesnetzagentur aus. Wettbewerber der Telekom und die EU-Kommission hatten den Paragraphen vehement als "Regulierungsferien" für das VDSL-Netz der Telekom kritisiert.
(RPAID) Speech by Viviane Reding, Member of the European Commission responsible for Information Society and Media. CMT's II International meeting: "Regulation in a convergent environment" Barcelona, 23 November 2009
(ZDNet UK) Europe is set to get a major overhaul of its telecoms regulation, after the European Parliament and Council of Telecoms Ministers reached a compromise on the rights of internet users across the continent. The Telecoms Reform Package is a raft of new laws that tackle issues ranging from data-breach notification to faster number porting. Following an agreement reached on Wednesday night, the package will now become part of national legislation in every EU country, with a deadline of May 2011. see Commission Press Memo.
(ZDNet UK) The European Commission has called on member states to speed up their switchover from analogue to digital television, to free up spectrum for wireless broadband services. The Commission first announced its intention to set aside the so-called 'digital dividend' spectrum for wireless broadband in 2007. Since then, consultations and industry negotiations have taken place, leading to the proposals set out by the Commission. See also Commission Press Release.
(EurActiv) The European Commission is threatening to brandish the new roaming regulation or antitrust rules in order to block plans by major EU telecoms operators to restrict the use of Internet calling services like Skype via their mobile networks. Replying to a written question by a Socialist MEP, Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding made clear that the new roaming regulation, which entered into force at the beginning of July, is also aimed at avoiding any discrimination between technologies.
(Europa) Public consultation "Transforming the digital dividend opportunity into social benefits and economic growth in Europe" The purpose of this consultation document is to obtain comments and views from all interested stakeholders on the use of the Digital Dividend radio spectrum released through the transition to digital terrestrial television. It outlines proposals being considered as part of the planned EU roadmap, both for short term action as well as longer-term policy debate, in order to assist the Commission in finalising these proposals.All citizens and organisations are welcome to contribute to this consultation. Contributions are sought particularly from private citizens, from representatives of Member States' authorities, broadcasters, wireless and mobile operators, the programme-making and special events community, and other users or potential users of radio spectrum affected by the Digital Dividend policy actions. The deadline for submitting responses is 4 September 2009. See consultation document.
(RAPID) The European Commission has endorsed Slovenia's telecoms regulator's (APEK) plan to require Slovenia's largest mobile operator, Mobitel, to continue to give competitors access to its network at regulated prices. Unlike most other EU countries, Slovenia's market for wholesale access and call origination services on mobile networks is still not effectively competitive. Competitors, for the time being, still rely on Mobitel's network to provide full national coverage and competitive services to their subscribers. Once they have rolled out their own networks, regulation should be withdrawn.
(RAPID) The European Commission has cleared the proposal of the French telecoms regulator ARCEP to maintain regulatory obligations on the incumbent TV transmission services operator TDF. The regulation will apply to those TDF masts and sites that are impossible or very difficult to replicate. Alternative transmission service providers need to have access to these sites under adequate conditions to provide competing transmission services to digital television broadcasters and multiplex operators. At the same time, however, the Commission invites ARCEP to monitor the extent to which TDF's sites can be replicated and the competitive developments on the market so as to ensure that the regulatory obligations to be imposed on TDF remain justified and proportionate.
(RAPID) The European Commission has set out clear guidance for EU telecoms regulators on the cost-based method to be used when calculating termination rates ? the wholesale fees charged by operators to connect the call from another operator's network which are part of everyone's phone bill. The guidance is in the form of a "Recommendation" that national regulators are obliged to take "the utmost account" of. The Recommendation indicates specifically that termination rates at national level should be based only on the real costs that an efficient operator incurs to establish the connection. see Frequently Asked Questions. see also Ending the Fixed-Mobile-Subsidy: the new Commission Recommendation on Termination Rates in the EU Speech by Viviane Reding, Member of the European Commission responsible for Information Society and Media.
(ZDNet.co.uk) The last-minute addition of a net-neutrality clause to a package of telecommunications reforms will probably delay the package's approval by telecoms ministers, the European Parliament has said. The Parliament voted through the Telecoms Package, which includes a mixture of reforms covering topics ranging from number-porting and data-breach notification to radio-spectrum use and the establishment of a Europe-wide telecoms super-regulator. The sticking point is a clause inserted shortly before the vote that says "no restriction may be imposed on the fundamental rights and freedoms of end users, without a prior ruling by the judicial authorities ... save when public security is threatened". The Telecoms Package also stated that internet access was a fundamental right. The clause in question, numbered 138/46, is widely seen as a way of stopping so-called "three-strikes" legislation, such as the Hadopi bill that the French parliament rejected last month but will reconsider on 12 May. Such legislation can force ISPs to cut off users who are suspected of illegal file-sharing. see European Parliament Approves EU Telecoms Reform but Adds 1 Amendment: Commission Reaction (RAPID).
(Reuters) European Union states gave the green light to a sweeping reform of the telecoms sector after accepting a last-minute deal to resolve a spat over Internet access. Ambassadors from EU member states met to endorse a draft deal reached in negotiations on the reform with the European Parliament, which has joint say.
(IDG News Service) Prospects for a quick conclusion to talks about a change in Europe's telecom rules were dashed with blame for the stalled negotiations leveled at the Czech government by, among others, the author of the reforms, Commissioner Viviane Reding. The Czech Republic holds the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union. In a meeting with the European Commission and the European Parliament it held out against an agreement, even though a majority of the 27 countries it was negotiating on behalf of were ready to sign a compromise. At a lunch debate Thursday, Reding described the Czech government's failure to secure an agreement as "catastrophic."
(FT) Deutsche Telekom has abandoned a contentious plan to build its own ultra-fast broadband network in its domestic market and has instead linked up with rival Vodafone to develop the next-generation network across Germany. The move follows years of criticism from the European Commission, which feared that DT's go-it-alone approach, linked to a demand to keep rivals off its network, would lead to a new monopoly in Europe's largest telecoms market.
(RAPID) The European Commission is publishing new legislative texts on the EU Telecoms Reform package to take account of the European Parliament vote of 24 September 2008 and the ongoing discussions in the Council. The new texts presented by the Commission will be discussed in the Council of Telecoms Ministers on 27 November. At the heart of the compromise texts is a new, small and independent office for Europe's telecoms regulators that should help the Commission to bring about more consistency to regulatory measures on Europe's telecoms markets. The new regulatory framework is expected to become law in all 27 EU Member States by 2010. see also Commission position on Amendment 138 adopted by the European Parliament. Amendment 138 requires telecoms regulators to apply the principle: "that no restriction may be imposed on the fundamental rights and freedoms of end-users, without a prior ruling by the judicial authorities, notably in accordance with Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union on freedom of expression and information, save when public security is threatened where the ruling may be subsequent." The European Commission respects this democratic decision of the European Parliament. This amendment is an important restatement of key legal principles inherent in the legal order of the European Union, especially of citizens' fundamental rights. The language of the amendment is deliberately drafted in order to leave Member States scope for reaching a fair balance between several fundamental rights, in particular the right to respect for private life, the right to protection of property, the right to an effective remedy and the right to freedom of expression and information.
(Libération) Après des débats sru l du Paquet Télécom sous haute tension depuis plusieurs mois, le 24 septembre dernier, 88% des parlementaires européens ont voté ce texte qui établit que seule l´autorité judiciaire, et non une autorité administrative, peut restreindre les droits et libertés fondamentales. Dont l´accès à Internet. Depuis, se multiplient les insultes publiques et les pressions du gouvernement français, et de l´industrie culturelle, pour relativiser, puis faire annuler le texte. Suite à la publication de la lettre envoyée par Nicolas Sarkozy à José Manuel Barroso, le président de la Commission Européenne, pour faire rejeter le texte, la Commission s´est retrouvée dans une position assez inconfortable. La Commission a rejeté la demande de Nicolas Sarkozy. Aujourd´hui, on apprend que Viviane Reding a annulé sa venue aux Rencontres de Dijon 2008, les 18 au 21 octobre prochain.
(OUT-LAW News) The European Parliament has voted in favour of reforms of telecommunications laws that members hope will boost competition and provide consumers with clearer information. The Parliament rejected some of the measures proposed by the European Commission. The alternative plan created a co-regulatory body that would consult national telecoms regulators and the Commission but would not fall under direct Commission control. see also Commission reaction.
(RAPID) Mobile phone users can expect the cost of sending text messages from abroad in the EU to be much cheaper next summer. The European Commission has proposed to reduce the price of roaming text messages by 60% as of 1 July 2009. EU citizens travelling in other EU countries should pay no more than ?0.11 per SMS compared to the current EU average of ?0.29. The Commission also wants to improve transparency for surfing the web and downloading data on a mobile phone while abroad: consumers used to cheaper data services at home should be better protected against roaming "bill shocks" that can run to thousands of euro. The proposals will now be submitted to the European Parliament and Council, who must agree before they become law. The EU already reduced charges for making and receiving calls abroad (voice roaming) by 60% in summer 2007.
Providers of internet telephony must now allow emergency 999 calls over their networks or face the risk of enforcement action, regulator Ofcom has said. Caller location information must also be provided where technically feasible. It affects businesses such as BT, Vonage and Skype that offer services that connect VoIP calls to the public telephone network.
(OUT-LAW News) A European Parliament committee has rejected the European Commission's plans for an EU-wide telecoms regulator. The MEPs have proposed an alternative body which will have fewer powers. Viviane Reding, the Telecoms Commissioner, has criticised the plan, saying that the alternative body would not be able to act quickly enough. The Industry, Research and Energy Committee (ITRE) of the Parliament approved a report by Spanish socialist MEP Pilar del Castillo which proposes the new agency, the Body of European Regulators in Telecommunications (BERT) as an alternative to the Commission's proposed European Telecoms Market Authority (ETMA).
(RAPID) An EU-wide survey of 27,000 households has revealed the emergence of new consumption patterns in telecoms services in Europe. Technological progress and competition have brought more choice to European consumers; 24% of households have given up their fixed telephone in favour of mobile phones while 22% of them are using their computer from home to make phone calls over the Internet. In an increasing number of Member States, European households are using wireless access to connect to the Internet, via mobile or satellite networks. Meanwhile, 29% of European households buy bundled telecoms and media packages, an increase of nearly 10% since last year. Nevertheless, the top priority for consumers in this fast evolving environment remains the quality of services.
(RAPID) The Commission has launched a public consultation on the future regulation of "voice call termination rates" in the EU. Voice call termination rates are the wholesale tariffs charged by the operator of a customer receiving a phone call to the operator of the caller's network. These tariffs are determined by the intervention of national telecoms regulators. At the moment the decisions of the national telecoms regulators result in very divergent rates across the EU. This distorts competition between operators from different countries and between fixed line and mobile phone operators. The public consultation on this proposal will be open until 3 September 2008.
(IDG News Service) The 27 telecommunication ministers of the European Union unanimously dismissed Commissioner Viviane Reding's plans to create a powerful central telecom regulatory body at a meeting in Luxembourg. They were more supportive of other elements of her reform plans, including the functional separation punishment with which she wants to threaten former telecom monopolies. They also backed her latest idea: to issue guidelines for the telecom industry on ensuring a fair return on investment and sharing of next-generation telecom infrastructure. See Council Press Release.
(Economist) By any measure ? revenues, employees, customers ? it is the largest industrial reorganisation ever. And, reflecting how business is done in China, it was announced in the most modest way, with a posting on a government website on May 24th. The country's telecoms industry, with nearly 600m mobile subscribers, 360m fixed-line customers and $244 billion in revenue, will be reconfigured. Six companies will be collapsed into three, each spanning mobile, fixed and broadband services.
(FT) Cheaper overseas text messages, lower surcharges on mobile phone calls, a shake-up of the EU's radio waves - this striking "to-do" list marks the latest quest by Viviane Reding, the EU telecoms commissioner. She has repeatedly clashed with the industry over her regulatory efforts and while much of the Brussels machine has slowed in the final year-and-a-half of the European Commission's mandate, Mrs Reding seems determined to make the most of her remaining term.
(RAPID) the European Commission invites feedback by industry, consumers and other interested stakeholders to review the functioning and effectiveness of the EU Roaming Regulation, which entered into force on 30 June 2007. According to the provisions of the Regulation, the Commission must report to the European Parliament and the Council in 2008 about the functioning of the new roaming rules and their effects. The public consultation aims to gather responses from mobile operators, businesses, consumer associations and any interested party by 2 July 2008.
(RAPID) The European Commission has decided to send a reasoned opinion (the second and final stage before the case is referred to the European Court of Justice) to Belgium on "must-carry" rules imposed on broadcasters in the bilingual region of Brussels-Capital. "Must-carry rules" require network operators such as cable companies or telecom operators to carry specified radio and TV broadcast channels and services where a significant number of consumers use them as their principal means to receive radio or TV broadcasts.
(RAPID) Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden are world leaders in broadband deployment with penetration rates over 30% at the end of 2007, says the European Commission's 13th Progress Report on the Single Telecoms Market. These EU countries, together with the United Kingdom, Belgium, Luxembourg and France, all had broadband penetration rates higher than the US (22.1%) in July 2007. 19 million broadband lines were added in the EU in 2007, the equivalent of more than 50,000 households every day. The broadband sector generated estimated revenues of 62 billion and Europe's overall penetration reached 20%. However, there is considerable scope for further consumer benefits from a reinforced single market, strengthened competition and reduced regulatory burden for market players.
(RAPID) Speech by Viviane Reding. Member of the European Commission responsible for Information Society and Media. Joint dinner of the European Regulators Group (ERG) and the Radio Spectrum Policy Group (RSPG) Gothenburg, 27 February 2008.
(Reuters) Europe's national telecoms regulators will propose a beefed up role for themselves in a bid to thwart European Commission plans for a new pan-EU watchdog. he European Regulators Group (ERG) is expected to make public its proposal, to coincide with a European Parliament hearing on the European Union executive's plans to shake up the bloc's telecoms rules. EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding has proposed a new electronic communications market authority, but national watchdogs and some lawmakers say it could end up being a Brussels-based bureaucracy, isolated from markets.
(EurActiv) Telecoms operators were embroiled in a statistical row, with the latest figures on broadband internet published by incumbent operators association ETNO appearing to contradict those provided by ECTA, the "competitive" operators group. The Commission will resolve the dispute on 19 March with the publication of a definitive set of data.
(RAPID) The Commission has approved the proposal of the UK telecoms regulator Ofcom to de-regulate the wholesale broadband market in some parts of the UK, covering around 65% of all UK homes and businesses This is the first time that a national telecoms regulator in the EU has identified different broadband markets in different geographic areas within a country and proposed lifting regulation in those geographic areas now characterised by effective competition. The Commission supports Ofcom's proposal, which is based on detailed economic evidence, to deregulate local exchanges with four or more actual or potential providers serving areas with more than 10,000 homes and businesses.
(RAPID) The future challenges of cooperation between the European Commission and National Regulatory Authorities. Speech by Viviane Reding, Member of the European Commission responsible for Information Society and Media. Dinner at the Conference "Is it the right TIME?"- The future regulation of the Telecom, Informatics, Media and Entertainment sector in the EU. Budapest, 26 November 2007
(RAPID) As part of its package of telecom reform proposals, the European Commission has adopted a new Recommendation on the markets where telecom-specific regulation should take place. The original 2003 version of this Recommendation listed 18 retail and wholesale markets where the Commission considers that specific ex ante regulation is required by national telecoms regulators to deal with competition problems. To reflect the progress made in the past years in most EU Member States in terms of competition and consumer choice, the Commission concluded that in principle there is no need for regulators to intervene in half of these markets. At the same time, this move will allow regulation to better focus on the main bottlenecks in the telecoms sector.
(RAPID) The Commission has adopted proposals for a reform of the EU telecoms rules. The Commission proposes strengthening consumer rights; reinforcing competition between telecoms operators; promoting investment in new communication infrastructures, in particular by freeing radio spectrum for wireless broadband services; and making communication networks more reliable and more secure, especially in case of viruses and other cyber-attacks. A new European Telecom Market Authority will support the Commission and national telecoms regulators in ensuring that market rules and consumer regulation are applied consistently, independently and without protectionism in all 27 EU Member States. To become law, the Commission proposals will now need to be approved by the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers.
At a meeting with top officials of the Italian regulatory authority for telecommunications, Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding was determined to introduce functional separation as a "last-resort remedy" in telecoms liberalisation. Reding reaffirmed her conviction that "national telecoms regulators should be given this tool that can promote both competition and investment". She stressed, however, that the disputed splitting-up of telecoms incumbents should be applied only as a "last-resort remedy to address the stubborn cases where other remedies have failed".
(Heise) The dispute about the creation of an EU regulatory body for European telecom markets is escalating. In a joint letter to the EU commission, Germany and five other EU states have voiced their opposition to such a European super authority. There is no need for "institutional reform", they write in their letter, which was signed by representatives of German, French, British, Spanish, and Swedish economic ministries. A representative of the State Ministry signed on behalf of Luxembourg.
Mobile phone companies have to cut by up to 70% the amount they charge customers for making and receiving calls between EU countries. Under the new EU rules, the companies have to offer customers now a new pricing structure, with cheaper "roaming" fees.
(RAPID ) In the dispute over Germany's new telecom law, the Commission will refer Germany to the European Court of Justice. Germany has failed to remove new provisions in German law that could grant Deutsche Telekom a 'regulatory holiday' in spite of its dominant position in the broadband market. T
(RAPID) The Commission has launched today a public consultation to identify common Europe-wide telephone services of social value that could benefit from single European freephone numbers starting with 116. The consultation will run until 20 May 2007. The public consultation is the next step after the Commission's Decision of 15 February requiring Member States to reserve the six-digit number range starting with 116 for services of social value in Europe. This Decision also reserved the first such number, 116000, for hotlines for missing children. The consultation seeks to identify other services that may also benefit from a single Europe-wide number. Once the Commission has decided which numbers should be reserved for which services, it will be for Member States to assign the numbers to individual organisations within their territory.