EU Regulation Decimating Telecoms Investment

In their Regulatory Scorecard Investment Report telecoms industry body ECTA concludes that investment in telecommunications in Europe’s 15 leading economies could have been as much as €16 billion higher if regulatory environments had been consistently more favourable to competition.

The European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ECTA) believes these findings come at a critical time in the debate on the appropriate level of regulation to encourage the development of High Speed Broadband access, by providing equal incentives for both incumbents and new entrants to invest.

Innocenzo Genna, Chairman of ECTA, said, “The findings of the Investment Report confirm that effective regulation and investment are positively associated, and critically, that it is the differences in regulatory environments which account for much of the difference in investment between EU countries. Nowhere is it more important to ensure effective regulation, which does not discriminate in favour of incumbents, than in the delivery of high-speed services.”

Genna added, “Competition in the delivery of services over vDSL and fibre upgraded networks is vital if the EU digital economy is to grow and compete effectively on a global basis. Unless regulation and regulators are properly supported, we will return to the monopoly era of services provided exclusively by incumbents and in the process destroy today’s unbundling business model that has been the main driver of innovation and growth in the broadband market.”

Upgrading the historic copper telephone network through vDSL technology and fibre allows faster data transmission over a single connection and is seen as the next step in enhancing broadband services. However, control over these upgrades mostly remains in the hands of former state-owned incumbents, and Governments are facing increased demands from incumbents to grant protection from competition. This issue is also likely to be high on the agenda when Governments and the European Parliament debate planned changes to EU telecoms law – expected to be released end October.

Angelika Niebler MEP, Chair ITRE Committee of the European Parliament, gave the keynote address at today’s conference. Her presentation focused on policies to drive growth and innovation in the high speed broadband sector. She was supported at the conference by additional speakers including Government and European Parliament representatives, regulators, law firms, economists and operators.