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Telecom groups welcome EU guidelines
|18 сентября 2009|
Telecom groups have welcomed European Union guidelines on funding broadband infrastructure, which will grant member states limited opportunities to subsidise internet access in areas unappealing to private operators.
Neelie Kroes, EU competition commissioner, claimed on Thursday that guidelines should provide “a clear and predictable framework” for an estimated €300bn of broadband investment in the EU.
“While this investment should be made mostly by private companies, there is an important role for public investment in achieving the widest possible access to broadband in under-served and non-profitable areas,” she said.
An important element in the rules is the distinction made between types of geographical area – in particular, densely populated regions where competition among broadband providers exists; “grey areas”, where some infrastructure exists but services are still inadequate; and predominantly rural areas, where no infrastructure is available. The last category is termed “white” areas. The guidelines acknowledge that in both white and grey areas, state aid might be justified.
Ms Kroes said: “There is an important role for public investment in under-serviced and rural areas.”
Etno, a Brussels-based telecom industry association, welcomed the limitations on state investment to prevent uncompetitive behaviour by public authorities.
“Today’s guidelines enable public authorities to play their role in supporting network deployment, while setting clear safeguards to avoid crowding out private investment,” said Michael Bartholomew, Etno managing director.
The safeguards specify, in particular, that whenever government assistance is given to private operators, the aid must “foster competition” by requiring the beneficiary company to provide open access to the publicly funded network for third-party operators.
Telecom operators are awaiting the Commission’s guidelines on how it will regulate private investment in next-generation internet services.
Smaller operators are lobbying for incumbents to remain under an obligation to share their networks with newcomers, as happens today with legacy networks largely built when the incumbent groups were under state ownership.
The now-privatised groups are arguing that compulsory network sharing limits the incentives for them to undertake large investments.
Источник: Financial Times