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EU aims for single regulator, MNP green light this year

18 апреля 2008

European Commission bullish on getting key points from its Telecoms Reform Package approved.

The Telecoms Reform Package unveiled by the European Commission in November contained a number of controversial measures, including the creation of a single regulator, rules on mobile number portability and the possibility of enforced functional separation. But Brussels believes the package will be given the green light later this year.

I am confident we will get a deal "during this mandate," said Ken Ducatel, member of the Reding cabinet at the European Commission, speaking to Telecom World Congress attendees in
London on Wednesday. The new commission will take power in November.

"We will get our package of measures adopted," he said, adding that there will likely be some changes, but the major ones will be passed.

"Number portability within 24 hours," is a very important one, said Ducatel. "We will get that one through."

And he was also confident on the creation of a single European regulatory body, a European Telecom Market Authority made up of national regulators from the 27 member states.

"We're sure we're going to get something on this," said Ducatel.

He defended the European Commission against recent criticism of the proposals, specifically against the argument that telecoms is a national business and should therefore be overseen by national regulators.

"The regulation of the telecoms sector is not about the telecom sector," said Ducatel. It's not about the benefit to the telecoms industry, but rather the benefit to the economy.

"We need efficient European services for businesses," he said. Regulating at a European level is better for the customers of Cable & Wireless, BT and Global Crossing, he said, listing the telcos that participated in that afternoon's conference session.

At present these businesses have 27 different sets of regulations to contend with, he said. The Commission aims to "attack the fragmentation of the European space."

Ducatel added that since the proposed single regulatory body would be made up of the regulators from the 27 member countries, it will be able to make decisions quicker and more efficiently, "without undermining the national regulators." The board members will have "the ability to impose decisions on each other," he said.

Ducatel also brought up the subject of functional separation, once again holding up BT's Openreach as a successful example.

The proposals on functional separation are "reasonable", he said. "We think that is relatively straightforward."

The issue of spectrum allocation stemming from the digital switchover could be a more difficult, Ducatel admitted, due to the lobbying powers of the broadcasters and their leverage with national parliaments.

The Commission is keen to see the use of this spectrum left to market forces. But the broadcasters "regard it as their birthright," said Ducatel.

"We have very little free space," for forthcoming wireless-based services, he noted.

"There are still very, very significant urban and rural gaps," he added. The broadcast spectrum provides "a lot of possibility for overcoming some of the broadband gap."

Источник: Total Telecom

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