European Competitive Telecommunications Association

ecta welcomes the Commission’s initiative to review the Broadband Cost Reduction Directive (BCRD). This initiative comes at a key moment in the evolution of EU communications infrastructure to a new stage.

ecta shares the vision of moving Europe to an era of very high capacity networks, as foreseen under the European Electronic Communications Code. To achieve this, it is critical that measures under the Code and the functioning of the BCRD evolve in a coordinated manner.

ecta Is concerned that such coordination has been lacking and that virtually all Member States failed to ensure timely implementation of the directive. Furthermore, there has been neither adequate, nor coherent reporting on its actual functioning and benefits. Nevertheless, certain Member States have relied on the directive to remove access obligations relating to physical infrastructure controlled by undertakings with significant market power (SMP).

It is essential that a future-proof EU level framework for building the networks on which the Gigabit society can rely, is consistent, mutually reinforcing and effective. Only in this manner will it be possible for such a framework to aspire to successfully address further challenges, such as the sustainability of much-needed deployments.

A thorough evaluation is needed to establish how far the best practices on which the directive was built have effectively spread and today shape administrative practice in the Member States. Such information is especially important given the lack thereof in the Commission’s implementation report of 2018. This assessment should notably focus on countries without prior legislation and discount positive findings that simply reflect pre-existing national practices.

Where administrative practices have not evolved, and where overlaps in regulation exist between the Code and the BCRD, all options must be thoroughly considered, including a repeal, whether full or partial, of the BCRD.

ecta and its members are ready to contribute to this work, and will provide detailed responses to relevant upcoming public and targeted consultations.

We consider the following issues and questions as requiring close scrutiny during the review:

Cross- and intra-sectoral use:
How many operators of networks other than public communications networks have availed of the right to offer access to their physical infrastructure? What share of network deployment relies on the BCRD? What impact has co-deployment between providers of public communications networks had on investment levels?

Institutional complexity and administrative burdens:
Has the Single Information Point (SIP) been implemented in a unified or distributed manner? Where SIPs are distributed, are cooperation processes in place and efficient? Has implementation effectively reduced time and effort to access relevant information and obtain relevant permits? How has pricing affected SIP use? Are all relevant procedures ‘fit for digital’?

Permit granting:
Are permits effectively granted within four months? How often have exceptions been invoked, and is information about delays and costs readily available via the SIP(s)? Are comparison tools available?

Effectiveness of dispute settlement procedures:
Are disputes settled efficaciously and timely, and has a predictable practice, including relevant guidance, evolved? What are the associated costs, and have these prevented operators from seeking settlement?

Interplay between SMP regulation and the BCRD:
Have SMP obligations mandating physical infrastructure access been rescinded invoking the BCRD? How has this influenced deployment and the number of disputes? Have SMP operators demonstrably cooperated fully and in good faith with national dispute settlement bodies? What is the share of access requests from SMP operators to competitive operators relative to the requests among providers of public communications networks, and in relation to all requests under the national transposition?

 

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