Although they have not even been published, the measures being considered by the European Commission to regulate access to telecommunications networks (calculation of access charges and principle of non-discrimination) have already raised an outcry by alternative telecoms operators. Seen by Europolitics information society,the last draft of the recommendation that has just been transmitted to the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) does not meet their expectations that it should garantee robust measures to ensure full competition on telecommunications markets. BEREC has to give its opinion on the text, which the Commission is expected to adopt in 2013.

"The Commission proposes rules that undermine the growth potential of the sector, leading to higher consumer prices, less competition and no additional investments. A lose-lose scenario for consumers and businesses, competition and the economy, in the name of promoting NGA [next generation access] investments that are already happening anyway," said Tom Ruhan, chairman of the European Competitive Telecoms Association (ECTA).


The debate began in 2011, when the Commission launched a consultation on the calculation by national regulators of the charges to be paid by competing operators for access to the dominant operators' telecommunications networks. It proposed to reduce charges for access to the incumbents' copper networks in areas where investments in NGA networks, and more specifically fibre networks, are not being made. The idea is to foster investment in NGAs and especially fibre. The alternative operators, who note that the incumbents have made excessive profits from their copper infrastructures, backed this approach. The incumbents represented by ETNO vehemently opposed it. They argue that lower copper prices would discourage investments because it would lead to a drop in retail prices and consequently a decline in earnings. A decrease in copper access prices would also discourage consumers from migrating, claim the incumbent operators.

The Commission took a stance, on 12 July: in contrast with the approach it had originally considered, it decided not to try to lower charges for access to copper networks as a way to boost investments in NGAs and specifically fibre. It also said it intends to give national regulators a fair degree of flexibility in calculating NGA access charges.


This reversal comes with conditions, however: stricter...

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