European Competitive Telecommunications Association

Commissions’ Broadband Package paves the way to a competitive, high-speed digital Europe 
New measures signal an end to "regulatory holidays” for fibre, but the regulated charges for access will be key in determining whether consumers see the benefits 

Brussels, 20 September 2010:  The European Competitive Telecoms Association, ECTA, welcomes the package of measures to boost the coverage and take up of high-speed broadband announced by the European Commission on 20 September.  In particular, the recommendation on Next Generation Access is applauded for confirming the importance of competition in high-speed broadband services by regulating access to "next-generation” fibre networks. ECTA also backs the Commission’s proposals on spectrum which aim to ensure that consumers will have a choice of provider for mobile broadband services

What are ECTA’s views on the NGA Recommendation?
"This long-awaited Recommendation should herald an end to the regulatory holidays that have held back innovation and choice over the past five years and should force dominant operators to open up their fibre networks to competition. However, there is unfortunately a long way to go before consumers will be able to see the results,” said Hubertus von Roenne, chairman of ECTA. "Setting the correct wholesale price for both legacy copper lines and the new fibre will be fundamental in determining whether consumers reap the benefits of this new Commission Recommendation.”  

Broadband offers vary widely across Member States - in France some consumers can get 100 Mbps download speeds, unlimited national calls and TV all for under €30, whilst in other Member States a basic low-speed broadband connection costs closer to €40. "Today, European consumers have very little or no choice in high-speed broadband products and we are a long way from achieving a single European Digital Market”, continues von Roenne. "National regulators and the Commission should follow-up this Recommendation with rules on how wholesale prices are set to ensure consumers and businesses receive affordable services in a competitive market.”
ECTA also calls on the Commission to take firm action in its capacity as competition enforcer where dominant firms flout competition rules to drive their rivals out of business. When Telefónica was caught squeezing the margins of its competitors and charging excessive prices to consumers, in 2007, the Commission imposed a record fine of €152 million. The Commission is currently examining a further case of abuse in Poland. "Despite high fines imposed by the Commission on Telefónica, the Spanish market is still uncompetitive and consumers there continue to receive poor offers,” said the ECTA Chairman. "The Commission should send a clear signal – if they find an abuse in Poland – that these types of behaviours will not be tolerated.”

What are ECTA’s views on the Radio Spectrum Policy Programme?
ECTA believes that the EU needs a common vision on radio frequency spectrum and supports the measures contained in the draft decision. ECTA particularly welcomes the measures proposed to ensure that spectrum is assigned in a pro-competitive manner, which will encourage innovation and promote consumer benefits for mobile broadband services.  
"To ensure choice and affordability in mobile broadband services, spectrum needs to be divided between operators in a fair and pro-competitive manner.’ emphasized, Hubertus von Roenne, chairman of ECTA.  "In the end, consumers will suffer if most of the best spectrum goes to the largest operators with the deepest pockets. German consumers will pay a high price for the uncompetitive outcome of the recent spectrum auction, which should be avoided in other countries.”  
ECTA calls on the Parliament and Council to take forward the well-balanced radio spectrum strategy proposed by the Commission and, as a next step, to draw up equally ambitious provisions for unlicensed spectrum.

What are ECTA’s views on the Broadband Communication?
Funding is a central element of achieving the European Digital Agenda’s broadband goals and ECTA welcomes the Commission’s commitment to adopting a broadband financing instrument in cooperation with the European Investment Bank next year.
"Networks funded by new financial instruments should be open networks that enable wholesale access, promoting competition, reducing prices and increasing accessibility for consumers”, the ECTA Chairman added.

For further information please contact: 
Ilsa Godlovitch, Director, ECTA.  Tel: +32 2 227 2718

About ECTA
The European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ECTA) looks after the regulatory and commercial interests of new entrant telecoms operators, ISPs and suppliers of products and services to the communications industry. 
ECTA works for a fair regulatory environment that allows all electronic communications providers to compete on level terms in order to multiply investment and innovation throughout an effective European internal market.  The association represents the telecommunications industry to key government and regulatory bodies and maintains a forum for networking and business development. 
ECTA member companies include operators, service providers and suppliers as well as National Associations of such which all contribute towards regulatory policy development and participate in our comprehensive range of networking events, conferences, seminars, briefings and executive meetings.

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