European Competitive Telecommunications Association

ECTA today reiterates that it supports the European Commission’s proposal to insert an objective of access to, and take-up of, very high capacity data connectivity in the draft European Electronic Communications Code, alongside the established policy objectives, and particularly the promotion of competition. At the same time, ECTA stresses that it also shares several of the concerns expressed by BEREC, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications, in a set of position papers on the draft Code (available here).

ECTA supports in particular the following points raised by BEREC:

1. Regulation is not the enemy of investment, but regulatory uncertainty is.

Competition is the key driver of investment, and regulation promotes competition, hence regulation and investment should not be seen as opposed to one another. ECTA agrees with BEREC’s assessment that deregulation is no panacea that will unleash the investments needed to meet the targets for a European Gigabit society. Indeed, deregulation might destroy the investment case for alternative operators who have made significant contributions to promoting network rollout. ECTA therefore also concurs with BEREC’s expression of serious concern about long lasting negative effects on European welfare ‘from a forced stepping back from regulation’, as articulated in its press release and in its accompanying position papers.

2. Preserving the integrity of the Significant Market Power (SMP) framework is key.

A comprehensive market analysis by National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs), assessing all relevant criteria and analysing all types of SMP, is the best means of promoting sustainable competition. Loopholes in the SMP regime arising from the proposal, notably in relation to co-investment, should be closed and any deregulation without market analysis excluded.

ECTA considers that regulation is not a self-serving objective and should not continue without good reason, but also that deregulation should only result from the absence of market failure and never from a restriction of NRAs´ ability to address a lack of competition.

Yet ECTA agrees with BEREC that several proposals would limit NRAs’ ability to respond to market developments and would reduce – rather than increase – regulatory certainty and predictability, thus effectively discouraging investment.

ECTA therefore insists that only a well-functioning SMP framework is capable of continuing to promote competition and investment equally: To abolish `SMP first` and facilitate new symmetrical obligations without meticulous analysis demonstrating market malfunctioning, would not be a step in the right direction, but undermine sustainable competition and efficient investment.

Accordingly, ECTA is convinced that the SMP Guidelines remain an essential tool to ensure that NRAs can properly analyse relevant markets, and need to be updated in a manner that reinforces the functioning of the SMP framework. Any additional extension of the regulatory toolbox beyond SMP will have to be clearly distinguishable in substance and subject to a strict, sound and predictable process requiring a substantiated finding of market failure, to provide an equally solid basis for regulators, operators and investors alike.

ECTA stresses that also the ongoing review of the SMP Guidelines must occur in line with these considerations and calls upon the co-legislators and the Commission to carefully examine the interplay between the Code and the Guidelines to prevent any weakening of the SMP regime, while being mindful of the fact that failure to address evolving market realities in the Code is likely to entail significant competitive harm and put at risk the achievement of a competitive European Gigabit society.

3. Tying the hands of the National Regulatory Authorities is not an answer.

Regulators, as the parties best placed to assess specific national market circumstances, need to have a full toolbox of regulatory obligations (’remedies’) available to them to address market malfunctioning. ECTA shares BEREC’s position that the proposals in the draft Code and ITRE report risk undermining the successful promotion of competition across Europe, which has delivered significant end-user benefits to consumers, businesses and the public sector, and has been the primary driver of new investments.

ECTA therefore supports maintaining and, where appropriate, bolstering NRAs’ powers to effectively address competition issues. To maintain benefits for all users, ECTA underlines that future regulation must enable NRAs to properly address failures in the markets serving professional users (businesses and public administrations) as well as in mass consumer markets.

Click here for a copy of the Press Release

* * *

ECTA members are united in their belief that competition is the best driver of efficient investments and the greatest enabler of innovation, choice and benefits for citizens and businesses, as well as for the European economy overall. This is the key message that ECTA and its members promote in the discussions about the proposed European Electronic Communications Code.

To learn more about ECTA’s first analysis of the draft Code, please click here.

To learn more about ECTA’s position on the draft report of the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) on the draft Code, please click here.

For further information on the contents of this press release and ECTA`s positions, contact:
Luc Hindryckx, Executive Director, +32 (0)2 290 0102.

ECTA, the European Competitive Telecommunications Association (, is the pan-European pro-competitive trade association that represents more than 100 of the leading challenger telecoms operators across Europe. For nearly two decades, 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 and are the leading innovators in Internet services, broadband, business communications, entertainment and mobile.

Copyright © 2011 ECTA - The European Competitive Telecommunications Association -  LegalContact

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