National governments, industry and consumers to benefit from telecoms package

A package of reforms for the telecoms sector have been adopted in the European Parliament. Malcolm Harbour MEP, Conservative internal market spokesman, was rapporteur of one of the four reports contained within the telecoms package.

Harbour’s report, which contained provisions to boost users’ rights in the telecoms sector, ensured consumers will benefit from more choice, clearer contract information and increased security online as they will now be notified in cases of breaches of personal data, such as loss of credit card details.

Another of the reports in the telecoms package proposed the creation of a telecommunications body to regulate the European telecoms market. Initially the commission proposed the creation of a large and costly body called EECMA. However, the Conservatives fought strongly against this proposal that would have created a centralised bureaucratic body with high costs and a large staff, to propose a more streamlined body with more specific functions and composed of NRAs due to their proximity and knowledge of the local market. Harbour was instrumental in the creation of the alternative body, Body of European Telecoms Regulators.

Harbour said: “The proposal, which was led by Spanish MEP, Pilar del Castillo, will mean that the EU telecoms sector is regulated by NRAs, who really understand how the market operates. The Commission’s original proposal has been improved significantly to ensure that its functions and objectives are clearer while costs and bureaucracy have been significantly reduced. The Parliament’s overwhelming support for the alternative body we proposed demonstrates the vital role of NRAs in the regulation of the EU telecoms sector.”

The second part of the package, the Trautmann report, aims to update the economic framework of the telecoms sector, which is vital for future investment in fibre technologies. Harbour strongly supported the report, which makes provisions to promote the creation of new technologies to enable Europe to keep the pace with competitive markets.

Harbour added: “It is crucial that we promote investment in fibre technologies. Providers need assurance that there is a stable economic framework in place to facilitate investment. We need to support a strong economic framework to ensure we have a competitive environment, which consumers can benefit from by new technologies, greater choice and lower prices.”

The final part of the package, the Toia report, involves the coordination of the digital dividend, which refers to the spectrum dividend following the switch from analogue to digital. Harbour backed calls for a market orientated approach to spectrum allocation where it would be traded like any l commodity in the form of spectrum trading and would therefore promote the development of new technologies, such as wireless.

Harbour said: “I fully support a market led approach to the allocation of the digital dividend following the analogue switch over. By opening up the radio spectrum the market, so that telecoms operators are free to use it to develop new technologies, there will be huge improvements in wireless communications.”