Europe faces legal action over ‘disappointing’ LLU

When the writs hit the fan

The European Commission (EC) has threatened legal action against some member states after describing local loop unbundling (LLU) in Europe as "very disappointing".

In its 7th Report on the Implementation of the Telecommunications Regulatory Package published yesterday the EC claims that the progress of LLU is "overall not satisfactory".

It found that not enough is being done to open up local networks to competition and has called on national regulators to get tough with incumbent telcos found dragging their heels.

Erkki Liikanen, the commissioner for enterprise and technology, and competition commissioner, Mario Monti, said that they would start the process of legal action on December 20 - almost a year after LLU among member states became mandatory. The report didn't say which countries would face action.

However, no lines have been unbundled in Ireland or Luxembourg and shared access (which allows different operators to supply data and voice services over the same copper wire) is only operational in Belgium, Denmark, Finland and Sweden. Trials are currently under way in France.

A spokeswoman for telecoms regulator, Oftel, was confident that the UK would escape legal action insisting that Britain complied with all the necessary EC regulations.

In September the head of Oftel, David Edmonds, said LLU had "not been a success" and that the practicalities surrounding opening up BT's network to competition has been a "painful and often miserable process".

Germany has more than 500,000 unbundled lines; Denmark 40,000. The UK? Around 150. ®

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