Under heavy pressure from the industry and the European Parliament, the Commission will “soon” come out with a proposal to spur EU investment in Next Generation Networks (NGNs), Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding told EURACTIV.
The telecoms and digital industries have in many cases complained about the lack of reference to NGNs in the Commission’s proposals for a comprehensive review of the EU telecoms sector.
Their argument is that the Commission keeps focusing on regulatory measures without helping the technological and infrastructure developments which will be needed in the coming years (see EURACTIV 09/05/08). The European Parliament, which is about to vote upon the review, echoed the industry’s positions (see EURACTIV 25/04/08).
As NGNs are not mentioned in the telecoms review, industry is instead looking at alternative uses of the new networks, such as high-definition TV over the Internet and a new range of interactive and user-generated services, according to a recent document published by EICTA, the European digital industry association.
In response, the Commission said it will issue a recommendation on access to the new networks and their link to individual households, the so-called ‘last mile’ – Next Generation Access (NGA).
But who will pay for the networks and how they will be deployed remains uncertain. “We are still working on this, we are consulting, analysing the market and checking the different possibilities,” Commissioner Reding told EURACTIV. “What is clear is that we will come out with a proposal to give legal certainty for the investments,” Reding said. “Industry which invests needs to know over several years what kind of regulation will influence their decisions,” she explained.
According to Reding, these indications were not part of the telecoms review because “it will [be] some time before the reform is implemented into national law and we need to have something in our hands now”.
Her spokesperson Martin Selmayr added: “It is not true that the reform does not do anything for investment. It includes competition and a single market, the best recipe for investment,” he said.
Although details of the Commission’s guidelines are not yet public, Selmayr indicated that models to follow could come from the most advanced countries in the sector, such as Japan and South Korea, but also from some EU countries, like “Denmark, the Netherlands and also Slovakia”.