EU telecoms package must not be derailed by scaremongering, says MEP

Malcolm Harbour, MEP, has stated that the European Union’s Telecoms package will give consumers new rights and powers in the modern age of telecommunications, and it will not act as a new copyright enforcement law as he believes some people have inaccurately purported.

Harbour, Conservative spokesman on telecoms in the European Parliament, said that the Telecoms package, which updates 2002 regulations to take account of new technological advancements such as internet-enabled handsets, will make life better for consumers. The Telecoms package will make it easier for consumers to shift contracts to other providers, and gives regulators new powers to intervene to prevent anti-competitive blocking by service providers.

Harbour said: “This package is very good news for the consumer, who will have more information and choice, and better service quality. Unfortunately, the real benefits of this package risk being undermined by alarmist scaremongering that it will cause certain websites to be blocked, and consumers prosecuted for copyright abuse. This is not, and has never been, the intention of this proposal. The directive adopts a light touch to regulation, so that innovation in the telecoms sector can continue to develop according to consumers’ demands.”

The main highlights of the proposals from the Internal Market committee are: where handsets or other terminal equipment are included free, (or at a subsidised price,) consumers must be informed about the cost of terminating the agreement early; enhancing the availability of transparent pricing information, and enabling independent companies to use the data for consumer information.; operators must inform users, before contracts are concluded, about any restrictions on access to services (such as Skype); making it easier to switch service providers by quicker transfer of an existing number, within a maximum of one working day; contract lengths will be a maximum of 24 months to avoid consumers being locked into long contracts; disabled users will enjoy equivalent access to communications and special terminal equipment.

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