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EU telecoms market still 'too fragmented'

Almost as though we were separate countries

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The EU telecoms market is doing okay, but could be doing better, according to the latest report from the European Commission, which blames inconsistent regulation for the lack of a unified approach.

The market has done well to sustain its size during 2009 in the face of an overall economic shrinkage of 4.2 per cent. But the Commission reckons that things would be even better if local regulators didn't force operators to address 27 different markets rather than deploying services across national borders.

"National telecoms regulators often delay, sometimes by years, the enforcement of EU rules" says the report summery, before laying into regulators which have not kept up with legislative changes dictated by Brussels.

The fact that each country has its own radio spectrum allocations and legacy infrastructure issues also differentiates them, though that would disappear if the regulators would hand over power over to an EU super-regulator. But despite heavy lobbying this idea was castrated back in 2008, leaving the Commission shouting at local regulators it feels should be doing more.

The full report (pdf) includes a breakdown of the competitive landscape, both fixed and mobile, for all 27 countries (pdfs for each), which makes fascinating (if lengthy) reading.

The UK does okay in most aspects, boasting a mobile penetration of 126.2 per cent and average broadband price of £13.65 a month - compared to the £23.30 we were paying at the end of 2005. In fact the only thing the UK gets pulled up on is the proportion of our broadband connections that top out above 10Mb/sec, which is only 19.8 per cent, compared to the EU average of 23.2 per cent, but that could be the result of having one of the largest penetrations of broadband itself. ®

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