The European Commission (EC) is reportedly planning the establishment of a single telecommunications regulator for all 28 EU member states, which would take over many of the responsibilities of Ofcom in the UK and ARCEP in France. A leaked document from European Commission for Competition Joaquin Almunia claims that a single body is needed in order to effectively remove “national divergences”.
James Robinson, telecoms regulation analyst at Ovum believes an EU-wide telecoms regulator would face issues with spectrum allocation and differences in national infrastructure:
“A move away from the present scenario of 28 individual authorities would pose significant challenges for a pan-European regulator. Firstly, spectrum that is currently auctioned on a national basis could fall under the jurisdiction of this new, super-regulator. Governments would certainly be reluctant to let this happen as such auctions have provided valuable revenue in recent years.
“A single regulator would also face issues with the inherent differences of national markets. For example, EU member states are at varying stages with the rollout of next-generation broadband networks. The regulation of these networks also varies considerably: Fiber unbundling has been mandated in Denmark whereas this obligation does not exist in France where next-generation broadband rollout has been relatively slow. When imposing remedies NRAs have taken into account the conditions of their domestic markets and sought to encourage investment in superfast broadband while simultaneously guaranteeing competition.
“In Ovum’s opinion establishing of a single EU telecoms regulator is a logical proposal given the EC’s aim to establish a common market within the region. But doing so would require the EC clearing difficult hurdles such as spectrum auctions and national differences. We will watch with interest, however, when a new draft regulatory framework is published in September to see the proposals in further detail and how they intend to overcome these obstacles.”
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