Creating a Single Market for Telecoms
Brussels, 12 September 2013: ECTA, the European Competitive Telecommunications Association, welcomes the European Commission’s intention to improve the Single Market for telecoms but considers that only a genuinely pro-competitive policy can allow Europe to reap all the benefits of a true Single Market. ECTA warns against measures, which could undermine competition to the detriment of consumers and businesses and disregard national specificities.
In today’s difficult economic climate, when consumers are pressed to curb monthly spending and businesses need a boost to their productivity and efficiency to compete with global peers, it is more important than ever to promote a vibrantly competitive telecoms market. Challenger telecoms operators are the engines of competition and growth, driving innovation, choice, broadband take-up and affordable prices for consumers and businesses. Whilst the EU has gone a long way from monopolies to more competitive markets, the Commission’s digital agenda scoreboard shows that the EU telecoms market is far from being truly competitive and suffers from extremely low take-up of very high speed broadband services.
The recent overemphasis on network investments clouds the discussion on the real barriers to the Single Market. Many local incumbent operators failed to renew their networks in good time using the considerable profits collected from consumers and competitors and chose to spend elsewhere. Deregulation would be the wrong approach to fixing the bad commercial decisions of certain dominant telcos. Investments are important but Europe is not falling behind for example the US when it comes to fibre (FTTC&FTTH) coverage.
"We can boost take-up, innovation and investments in the EU telecoms market – which in turn would generate growth – only by boosting competition in the sector. But it takes genuinely pro-competitive policies and hard work implementing them.” said Tom Ruhan, the Chairman of ECTA.
"This is where the weakness of the Single Market package lies. It does not recognise that only reinforced competition will bring increased benefits to the economy and society. There is simply no other way to create a true Single Market than a pro-competitive way.” – he added.
Erzsébet Fitori, Director of ECTA continued: "There are several positive initiatives in the package such as creating a single authorisation regime, harmonising spectrum assignment and key fixed wholesale access inputs. We look forward to working with the co-legislators to improve the key elements in a constructive dialogue. ”
Serving European businesses with better communications services and cutting red tape are important objectives of the proposal. The business segment figures first among the key areas where action is desperately needed.
The effective application of the regulatory remedies and consistent availability of key wholesale inputs is needed if we want to reap the economic benefits of ensuring that European businesses have more competitive and innovative communications services. These benefits – stemming from increased efficiency and productivity of European businesses - can amount to almost 800 billion euros over a 15-year period.
1 This statement cannot be attributed to ECTA members with an incumbent interest.
The Commission’s Single Market package aims at improving the Single Market in telecoms by simplifying the authorisation regime, coordinating spectrum assignments, standardising wholesale access products, ensuring an open internet, reducing roaming charges and tightening consumer protection.
Regrettably, there was no public consultation on this important and complex legislative proposal that would have allowed all stakeholders – industry, National Regulatory Authorities, end users be they consumers, SMEs or large businesses, academics etc. – to share and discuss their views on a publicly available policy proposal.
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ECTA (the European Competitive Telecommunications Association - www.ectaportal.com) is the pan-European pro-competitive trade association that represents more than 100 of the leading challenger telecoms operators across Europe. For over a decade, ECTA has been supporting the regulatory and commercial interests of telecoms operators, ISPs & equipment manufacturers in pursuit of a fair regulatory environment that allows all electronic communications providers to compete on level terms. Our members have been the leading innovators in Internet services, broadband, business communications, entertainment and mobile.
Contact: Inês Nolasco, Regulatory Affairs Manager (+32 2 290 01 03 / firstname.lastname@example.org