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UK regulator rules out formal mobile sector review

09 июля 2009

U.K. regulator Ofcom ruled out the need for a formal review of the highly competitive U.K. mobile industry at the moment, but will press ahead with a review into the price mobile companies can charge each other to connect calls on their network from 2011.

In an industry consultation document on the health of the mobile industry, the regulator said competition in the mobile sector has been a success for U.K. consumers in part because of the existing market structure.

Ofcom said it will continue to ensure that consumers enjoy the benefits of competition as the mobile sector changes, but would not undertake a formal review of the mobile market, apart from call termination rates.

The U.K. is one of the most competitive mobile markets in Europe, with five network operators and a host of companies that operate their own mobile brands while piggy-backing on the network of their partner operator.

Still, the regulator said it may need to step in if the situation changes, for example if there was consolidation in the industry.

Last week a flurry of press reports claimed that Deutsche Telekom AG's T-Mobile, the fourth-largest mobile player in the U.K., was in merger or acquisition talks with nearly all of its rivals at one time or another, which has prompted increased speculation that the long-awaited consolidation of the U.K. mobile industry may be imminent.

Ofcom also reiterated that it will conduct a review into mobile termination rates, to determine whether the rates should be reduced, and if so how quickly, after the current regime expires in 2011.

The current regime requires Vodafone Group PLC, Telefonica SA's O2, France Telecom SA's Orange and T-Mobile to reduce termination rates to 4 pence by 2011.

Reductions in mobile termination rates, or MTRs, directly hurt the revenue of mobile carriers. European Commission telecommunications chief Viviane Reding has pushed to reduce MTRs across the region, arguing they don't reflect the cost of providing the service.

Ofcom said it would investigate termination rates beyond 2011 bearing in mind the number of people now substituting their fixed line telephone for a mobile phone as well as with a view to reducing the regulatory burden on the mobile industry.

Ofcom also published a map of mobile 3G coverage, identifying where there is no 3G coverage and committing to investigate the reasons behind what it called "not spots."

Источник: Total Telecom

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