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Erkki Liikanen, European Commissioner for Enterprise and the Information Society, spoke about the European Union's plans for mobile regulation at the IFT World Mobile Communications Conference in London.

He pointed out the success of European telecoms and particularly mobile technology compared to the US. Liikanen believes the move to data services and higher speed connections mean regulations need to be updated now. He believes interoperability may be one area where regulation could help preserve Europe's leading position.

The new framework is being worked out with National Regulatory Authorities - like Ofcom in the UK. NRAs will then work with the EC to agree a common position.

Liikanen said there are four main areas of the mobile market currently being examined by the Commission.

  1. The move to 3G: Last October CEOs from the top 14 mobile players in Europe met to discuss 3G at an event labelled "The Mobile Platform". Topics included barriers to entry, interoperability, security and R&D. The 14 will meet again next month following which the EC will publish a Communication to help create a helpful environment for media rich content on mobile phones.
  2. Consultation on mobile payments: Liikanen mentioned the public consultation on mobile payments, noting: "I am anxious that regulation of this area should be proportionate and should facilitate the depolyment of innovative services."
  3. More spectrum: The Commission is looking at spectrum issues and ensuring more resources become available by 2008. The EC is also discussing secondary trading of spectrum rights. It acknowledges that this is a big and potentially disruptive change.
  4. Inquiry into footy rights: The Commission has launched a sector inquiry into the availability of "high value content", sports rights, on 3G networks. The inquiry aims to ensure fair access to sports rights for the mobile sector.

Liikanen urged all mobile operators to work with the Commission and national regulators to overcome existing competition problems. He also asked all companies involved in the Mobile Platform to "re-double their efforts to ensure to outline the concrete steps that can be taken to develop the mobile broadband sector".

In July Liikanen leaves the commission to become president of the Finnish Central Bank.

You can read the whole speech here.

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