Reding accepts most telecom package changes

The European Commission has agreed to water down its reform of the European Union's telecom market, paving the way for a final deal early next year, according to a Reuters report.

Last year the European Commissioner responsible for telecoms, Viviane Reding, proposed a package of measures aimed at boosting competition, cutting tariffs and giving consumers a wider choice.

However, EU states and the European Parliament are the final arbiters and many legislatures, regulators, operators and governments balked at some of her proposals, particularly the creation of a new super telecoms regulator and giving the European Commission a veto over national regulators.

Last month, parliament adopted a version of the package with significant changes and Reding's revised proposal, obtained by Reuters, shows she has accepted nearly all of the amendments. They include the following, as reported by Reuters:

"¢ Reding is to support parliament's vote to stop the French from turning ISPs into police officers, able to cut off subscribers who ignore warnings not to download copyright material illegally. Such action could only be ordered by a court, much to the relief of ISPs;

"¢ an Office for the European Telecoms Regulators (OETR) is to  be established, but It will not cover internet security or spectrum;

"¢ the Commission will not have the right to vet 'remedies' put forward by national regulators to increase competition, rather it will need OETR backing to force a regulator to change a remedy;

"¢ Parliament has insisted on several studies before the principal of functional separation can be accepted, that is, obliging an operator to run its network and services separately to increase competition. This move has been strongly contested by Europe's incumbents.

However, Reding has rejected parliament's move to create a third pan-EU spectrum related committee. Instead, parliament will be given a role in EU spectrum policy by having joint say over new, five-yearly spectrum proposals from the Commission. EU states retain their ultimate control over national spectrum allocation.