National telecoms regulators want to keep their power. They take a dim view of the obligations foreseen in the European Commission's draft recommendation regulating access to telecoms networks. In its opinion released on 26 March, the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) recommends giving more leeway to national authorities for implementing this controversial text meant to boost investments in next-generation access (NGA) networks(1).

The EU executive can hardly ignore this opinion. Since the recommendation imposes no direct binding obligations (unlike a regulation or directive), its proper application depends on support from national regulators, note different observers.

The orientation of this draft recommendation sparked a fierce battle among industry players. The debate began in 2011, when the Commission opened a consultation on how national regulators should calculate the charges paid by competing operators to obtain access to dominant operators' telecoms networks. It proposed in particular a reduction in charges for access to incumbents' copper networks in order to boost investments in NGAs. Alternative operators strongly back this measure

The Commission decided on 12 July 2012 not to try to lower access charges for copper networks as a means of boosting investments in NGAs and specifically fibre. It also intends to give national regulators some flexibility in calculating NGA access charges. In return, it will impose obligations to guarantee the principle of non-discrimination against alternative operators in access to incumbents' infrastructures and services.

BEREC supports this approach, but only its broad outlines. First, the national regulators should have more freedom to apply obligations aimed at guaranteeing non-discriminatory access to telecoms networks. This includes in...

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