Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Neelie Kroes repeats call for a single market for telecoms in Europe

Matthew Howett, telecoms regulation analyst, Ovum

SPAIN: Neelie Kroes, VP of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, has used her keynote speech at MWC 2013 to reiterate her vision of a single market for telecoms in Europe.

Kroes believes that a fragmented regulatory environment and inconsistent application of the rules is hampering investment and innovation, and that increased harmonization is the only answer.

Certainly a more through implementation of the existing framework is desirable, but Ovum questions just how much operators are interested in greater cooperation beyond their existing activities. “There is no doubt that they will welcome the release of additional mobile spectrum in a fair and transparent manner – and shared use of low-powered spectrum makes sense – but we wonder whether Kroes' ideas will amount to much beyond this.

Operators still see the network, and their ability to tweak it, as a key differentiator. As one operator claimed when the plans were first outlined earlier this year, it is very hard to foresee a single pan-European network, because of the [low] levels of cooperation between operators at a national level.

Instead, we wonder whether Kroes should direct more of her attention to the mounting tension between operators and over-the-top players.

Over the past couple of days, we have heard a number of impassioned speeches from operators about how they are no longer prepared to be taken for a ride by those that benefit from network investments, but don’t actually contribute to them. The reality is somewhat different, and not as simple as is being made out. However, it is certainly an area that would benefit from a more objective investigation by someone that is prepared to intervene to promote a sustainable industry should the need arise.

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