Network Related Items

TELECOM SINGLE MARKET REGULATION

Considering the lack of investments in Europe and the potential that a truly single market can bring to the telecommunications sector and the wider economy, Vice President Kroes proposed a Regulation for a single market for electronic communications. 

The proposed text include:

  • A proposal for EU authorisation to provide services across the EU;
  • More coordination of spectrum assignment;
  • Standardised wholesale fixed access products;
  • Proposals to end roaming charges;
  • Ban of blocking and throttling of competing services over a broadband connection but allowing agreements between content/application providers and network operators for prioritization of traffic.
  • A range of harmonised consumer protection rules

Cable Europe issued a statement on the proposal and is following closely the legislative process.

The European Parliament has carried out its first reading in April 2014.  It has substantially modified the initial proposals. The Latvian presidency of the Council has since March a mandate to negotiate with the European Parliament on new rules to cut mobile phone roaming fees and safeguard open internet access. Trialogue is now on-going with EP and Council however much wider apart than usual. Adoption is expected before the release of the Digital Single Market Strategy (6 May).


REGULATORY FRAMEWORK

An EU Telecoms Reform took place in 2009.

The framework notably defines rights and obligations for all market players, be it telephone companies, cable operators and other service providers. One of its main objectives is to foster competition in markets which have traditionally been dominated by incumbent telecom companies.

This revised framework has put in place a new European Telecoms Body, Berec, together with reorganising the market analyses notifications process known as the Article 7 procedure. The principle of infrastructure-based competition has been safeguarded. New provisions aim to promote sustainable investment in NGAs while safeguarding competition. It also includes many safeguards for disabled end-users and consumers’ protection in general (transparency obligations, emergency services, number portability, right to withdraw from contracts etc).

The 2007 recommendation on relevant markets and services is a key element of the regulatory framework.  It lists the markets that are to be reviewed by national regulators as part of the market analysis process and finding operators with significant market power (SMP).

The Commission adopted on 9 October 2014 the revised recommendation on relevant markets which is accompanied by an Explanatory Note. Today, the number of markets susceptible to ex ante regulation is reduced from seven to five.

The upcoming Digital Single Market Strategy should kick-off the new revision of the Telecoms Regulatory Framework.

Cable Europe will follow this process closely.


DIGITAL DIVIDEND

Stimulating competition in the ICT sector and encouraging the introduction of new communication technologies is one of the stated goals of European decision makers and specifically, the European Commission at the highest level (President Barroso).

The “Digital Dividend” is the additional spectrum that will become available for new wireless and TV services as a result of the switchover from analogue to digital TV, which has started in the EU Member States and is expected to be completed by January 1st 2012.

In examining the Digital Dividend, Cable Europe has identified potential negative impact on consumer equipment and in-home network (TV and internet) that is caused directly by the release of spectrum between 790-862MHz for new mobile services. The discovery of this interference was made through laboratory testing carried out by Cable Europe members, as well as Cable Europe Labs and external independent testing. European member states, including Austria, Germany, The Netherlands and the UK have carried out similar testing.

Interference identified in EU consumer equipment includes:

  • TV sets
  • Cable broadband modems
  • Set Top Boxes
  • PMSE (equipment used in live performances)
  • Personal video recorders
  • In-house wiring
  • Gaming Consoles

The Commission has adopted a Commission Recommendation and a Communication to the European Parliament and Council on 28 October 2009. It also adopted a Decision on harmonised technical conditions of use in the 790-862 MHz frequency band for terrestrial systems capable of providing electronic communications services in the European Union (800 MHz band).

Cable Europe has issued a call to ensure Member State decision makers and technology authorities carefully assess the risks for the EU consumer posed by interference.