EU needs single market to ensure fiber rollout

The European Commission says rollout of next-generation fiber networks is at risk due to disparate regulations in the region, and has reiterated its calls for a single European telecoms market to address the problem.
In a report released yesterday, the Commission said its work to-date has improved competition in the region, but warns that different approaches by individual national regulators threatens the harmony of “investment intensive infrastructure projects,” including NGA fiber networks.
Access to high-speed broadband is a key part of the Commission’s Digital Agenda, which aims to boost the region’s economy by unifying digital markets.
Neelie Kroes, VP for the agenda, said the Commission’s Article 7 procedure, which requires national regulators to inform the Commission of their plans to regulate domestic telecoms markets, had succeeded in providing a more stable market that offered consumers greater choice and lower prices.
However, she added that better co-ordination of regulations was needed “to ensure harmonized implementation and proper functioning of a single EU telecoms market.”
The report flagged three main problem areas: different treatments of fiber access products in wholesale broadband markets; variations in network interconnection and access rates; and disparate regulations covering the way telcos separate services provided to rivals and consumers.
Despite the problems, the report said that Article 7 has “led to less and better regulation across EU telecoms markets,” since it was introduced two years ago.
But it conceded the Commission’s dream of a unified telecoms market in the region is “still far from reality.”
The Commission is due to present its proposals for a single market in July.