Feeds

EU mulls changes to telecoms 'universal service'

'Cos we now live in the 'Internet age'

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

The European Commission (EC) is to take a new look at "universal service" rules to see if they need updating for the internet age.

Universal service obligations ensure that basic fixed line phone services are made available at an affordable price for everyone. But there are concerns that the current rules, regulations and parameters that govern universal service might not be up to speed for the fast-changing digital world.

"Stakeholders [Governments, regulators, telcos etc]...generally agree that the concept and provision of universal service which safeguards access to basic but vital communications services for disadvantaged users does need to be updated for the internet age," said Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding: "This year's review of the EU's electronic communications rules will give the opportunity to look at provision of universal service in an IP world."

Reding's comments follow an EU-wide consultation of the current universal service "safety net". The general view among those who responded to the consultation was that universal service still "works well" and that there is no need to extend it to cover mobile services or broadband.

The report found that punters already have affordable and available access to mobile communications within their home countries. As for broadband, while take-up is growing massively penetration levels are still relatively low. In both cases, the cost of extending universal service obligations to these services "would exceed benefits to users", said the report.

Said Reding: "This report reflects a broad stakeholder consensus that bringing mobile and high-speed internet services to users is best left to the market, except where structural problems such as geographical remoteness justify specific public investment to help bridge the broadband gap."

In March, UK regulator Ofcom ruled that high speed net access should not be part of a universal service obligation because it felt that the time wasn't right to impose such restrictions on telecoms providers.

Imposing universal service obligations for broadband "would be undesirable" at this time since the broadband market is "still developing", said Ofcom. ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
Microsoft unsheathes cheap Android-killer: Behold, the Lumia 530
Say it with us: I'm King of the Landfill-ill-ill-ill
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
Oh girl, you jus' didn't: Level 3 slaps Verizon in Netflix throttle blowup
Just hook us up to more 10Gbps ports, backbone biz yells in tit-for-tat spat
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.