European telcos under fire again

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European telcos under fire again

Commission calls on national regulators to improve competition.

The European Commission has stepped up its war of words against member states which are still trying to protect recalcitrant incumbent telcos. 

Europe still has a long way to go before it can boast a truly open and competitive telecoms market, according to the latest report from the European Commission.

The report looked at over 600 regulatory decisions which the member states' national regulatory authorities (NRAs) have submitted as part of the Commission's review of European telecoms rules.

NRAs check their decisions with the Telecoms Commissioner under a scheme known as the Article 7 Procedure to ensure that the regulations of individual member states fit with wider European Union telecoms policy. 

By making the NRAs check their decisions with overseers at the Commission, a more competitive telecoms landscape has emerged in Europe, benefiting telcos and their customers through lower prices and more choice, claims the Commission.

But there are still obstacles to overcome, according to EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding

"We must now remove the remaining inconsistencies to level the playing field in Europe and to promote the development of pan-European operators and services, " she said.

The Commission's latest pronouncement is seen by telecoms experts as a clear warning to NRAs that it will not tolerate attempts to protect national carriers with dwindling market share against burgeoning competition.

Earlier this month, Spanish incumbent Telef ónica was hit with €152m (a$240m) fine from Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes because it was holding broadband wholesale prices 20 percent higher than any other member state. 

The German NRA is also likely to face the wrath of the Commission over the 'regulatory holidays' it has granted Deutsche Telekom on broadband competition.
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