EC consults public on alternative operators

National European regulators are still at odds over rules governing the entrance of new broadband service providers on incumbent’s infrastructure, the European Commission’s digital agenda commissioner claims.
Neelie Kroes is appealing for the public’s help in establishing region-wide regulations for alternative providers seeking to offer broadband and fixed line telephony services via two consultations. The commissioner claims the approach will help the EC establish a level playing field for all service providers, which is a critical component in its goal of establishing a single market for telecoms in the region.
Consultation one covers non-discriminatory access to incumbent’s infrastructure, while the second seeks views on wholesale access fees levied by established telcos. The consultations are open until November 28.
Kroes states regulatory consistency is key to enabling new players to enter the market, because it will assure investors the market is competitive. “This will reassure markets that putting money into fiber networks is a safe and profitable investment,” she said.
The commissioner detailed one of the problems in a speech to the Financial Times’ annual CEO summit yesterday, explaining that alternative operators “consider that copper access prices are too high, given that the assets are largely depreciated.” Incumbents, meanwhile “argue that much lower copper access prices would erode broadband retails prices,” which will “make it difficult to charge the higher prices for competing fiber products which would be needed to cover the investment.”
Representatives from Deutsche Telekom and BT last week stated there is little value to selling current copper networks to fund rollout of fiber, noting that such a sale would deprive them of valuable income at a time when they need all the cash they can get to fund fiber networks.