European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes has slammed the “regulatory mess” affecting broadband in a warm up to forthcoming proposals to shake up the sector, which will form part of the new Single Market for Telecommunications.
"Today’s guidance to regulators just doesn’t give businesses – old or new – the certainty they need to make investments. It’s time to change," Kroes said on Friday (30 August).
Telecoms companies currently face different charges and regulatory systems depending on which member state they are operating in, making it harder to enter new markets.
This lack of certainty is one of the reasons Europe’s telecoms sector is struggling financially, which is leaving companies less able to invest in upgrading broadband networks, according to the EU executive.
"The effect is that Europe is losing the global race to build fast fixed broadband connections. Concretely: telecoms companies are under-performing, other businesses are losing competitiveness and frustrated consumers are stuck in the internet slow lane," the Commission said in a statement.
Europe’s telecoms sector is projected to suffer a 10% revenue dip in the decade from 2006-2016, whilst their US counterpart is projected to grow by 35%, and the Asia-Pacific region will see a 40% rise over the same period.
Key to the upcoming Telecoms Single Market proposals, expected on 11 September, will be a series of common rules governing copper prices and fibre regulation, aiming to give more stability to incumbent European telecommunications companies which own copper lines and rent them out to smaller players.
Access fees for copper networks vary across member states – from €4 to €14 per month, per line – based on several diverging calculation methods.
"We need to lift price regulation of high-speed networks where it is not warranted, and make regulation of copper prices stable and consistent across the EU,” said Kroes.