Regulators sluggish on EC harmonization
You’ve got to wonder about Neelie Kroes chances of uniting Europe’s telecoms markets when national regulators seem baffled by simple requests for information.
Sweeping proposals unveiled by the commissioner for the Digital Agenda last week include requirements for national regulators to auction off digital dividend spectrum in the 800MHz band by 2013, and yet only one of the four regulators Telecoms Europe.net contacted for comment managed to get back to us within the timeframe set.
In fact, only one of the four bothered to respond at all to our enquiries at all.
That regulator was Ofcom in the UK., which said the EC’s proposals won’t interfere with its plans to auction spectrum in the 800MHz frequency, and that the approach to fiber rollout is “broadly in line with that which Ofcom has proposed to adopt here in the UK.”
French regulator ARCEP had already issued a statement supporting Kroes’ proposals, noting that its current framework is “entirely in keeping with the principles established here by the European Commission,” and welcoming the framework covering network sharing.
The EC’s proposals were meant to clarify the regulatory situation for member states, allowing them to set wholesale access prices that balance the financial risk incumbents face in deploying fiber with fair and reasonable access for third-party providers.
Kroes’ also wants to encourage investment in wireless broadband to plug gaps in areas where rolling out fiber is economically unviable.
The lack of response from Italy is telling. The country lags behind the rest of Europe in fiber deployment, and the government is struggling to unite warring telcos to get the job done.
It did manage to get the carriers to agree a model for upgrading copper networks just before the EC unveiled its plan, but if the regulator has no response to the proposals it makes you wonder how serious that commitment is.
Spain’s CMT is perhaps hoping the EC’s proposals succeed in encouraging investment in fiber. The country has precious little cash after teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, meaning it will welcome the monies from spectrum auctions.
German regulator Bundesnetzagentur can be forgiven for not responding, given it has already sold off its 2.6GHz spectrum – raising €4.83 billion in the process.
Austria last week completed its 2.6GHz auction - €39.5 billion raised by the four incumbent cellcos -, and Ofcom has announced plans to hold its sale during 2011, so perhaps the question should really be whether the EC’s proposals are necessary at all?