Feeds

EC proposes massive telco shake-up

Incumbents face 'structural separation' showdown

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

The European Commission (EC) could be on a collision course with Europe's biggest telcos after publicly backing the idea of breaking-up incumbent operators.

Speaking last night, Viviane Reding, the commissioner responsible for Information Society and Media, said she planned to publish proposals that that would "for the first time consider the policy option of 'structural separation'" for Europe's biggest operators, giving rivals equal and non-discriminatory access to their networks.

Reding cited the UK, where regulator Ofcom has already taken such steps with BT to create a new access services division - Openreach. She also pointed to the US where she argued that "the opening up of the telecom monopoly of AT&T" starting in 1984 had helped give consumers "a true choice".

"Today, the EU rules in force do not foresee structural separation as a regulatory remedy on the telecom markets," said Reding. "But I see that the United Kingdom, which has opted for a form of structural separation at national level, has made good experiences with this remedy.

"I believe that the policy option of structural separation could answer many competition problems that Europe's telecom markets are still facing today. Perhaps we have to be as radical as regulators were in the US in the 1980s to make real progress?"

She went on: "Of course, we will have to find our own European solutions, adapted to the needs of our continent. But 'a European way of structural separation' is certainly a policy option that needs to be discussed intensively in the forthcoming months."

Part of Reding's speech yesterday focused on how telcos are no longer restricted to operating within their own national boundaries and are instead creating networks across Europe. She also highlighted how current European regulations are not imposed evenly by every nation, leading to distortions across the EU.

Her remedy for both of these, which has already drawn criticism, is the creation of a single European telecoms regulator.

"The most effective way to achieve a real level playing field for telecom operators across the EU would of course be create an independent European telecom regulator that would work together with national regulators in a system, similar to the European System of Central Banks," she said.

Such a move would mean that all EU rules and regulations would be applied "consistently in all Member States".

A spokesman for the European Regulators Group, which represents the EU's telecoms regulators, played down Reding's comments by saying "if the system isn't broke, don't fix it". ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
EE buys 58 Phones 4u stores for £2.5m after picking over carcass
Operator says it will safeguard 359 jobs, plans lick of paint
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Google+ GOING, GOING ... ? Newbie Gmailers no longer forced into mandatory ID slurp
Mountain View distances itself from lame 'network thingy'
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
Drag queens: Oh, don't be so bitchy, Facebook! Let us use our stage names
Handbags at dawn over free content ad network's ID policy
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.