European Parliament votes for EU regulator

The European Parliament has voted on amendments to EU telecom strategy proposed by telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding, including an alternative to the pan-EU regulator she suggested.

The European parliament proposed a stronger alternative to today's European Regulatory Group (ERG), to be known as the Body of European Regulators in Telecommunications (BERT), which will be able to vote as a single voice.

According to totaltelecom, the parliament also managed to please and disgruntle incumbents and alternative operators in equal measure with its amendments to European Commission proposals for fibre access network regulation and functional separation.

Although the parliament agreed regulators should have the ability to apply functional separation, it noted this should be an exceptional measure and wrapped red tape around Reding's original proposal. The parliament wants national regulators to be able to enforce functional separation 'only if both the Commission and BERT confirm that no other measure has achieved effective competition and that, without the remedy, there is little prospect of future infrastructure-based competition.'

Alternative operators claims this has diluted the measure, to their detriment while incumbents are complaining about the threat of functional separation in any form, although it did agree with proposed measures whereby construction firms and service providers that use new fibre facilities should share the financial risk.

"¢ The European Commission has announced regulations which should ensure that other European regulators will follow the lead of the UK regulator, Ofcom, and allow WiMax access to the 2.6GHz band, once earmarked for 3G cellular technologies.

An IDG article said the 2.6 GHz band has been the source of much debate, and the UK's planned spectrum auction has been delayed by protests from cellular operators O2 and T-Mobile.

The European Commission's Radio Spectrum Committee has ruled that the market should decide which technology to use in the band. It also gives local regulators the power to decide how much of the spectrum should be allocated to paired (FDD) spectrum traditionally used by 3G technologies, and unpaired (TDD) spectrum, which has been used by WiMax, (although an FDD version of WiMax is under development).