Telecom regulation

Europe's Digital Reboot

Cable underground worker hand Peter Kneffel dpa
In Brussels, politicians can decide who has access to these cables.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The European Union can decide who has access to communications cables, affecting competition between companies such as Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Liberty Global.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • The European Commission is set to overhaul telecoms regulations to make sure Europe’s communication networks remain competitive.
    • Current E.U. rules require large providers such as Deutsche Telekom to open their networks to competitors.
    • The Network Alliance, a coalition of German telecoms, will invest €8 billion annually through 2018 in expanding Germany’s broadband capacity.
  • Audio

    Audio

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The European Union is to overhaul telecoms regulations to make sure Europe’s communication networks remain competitive.

E.U. Commissioner Günther Oettinger met with several telecoms companies, including a group of German telecoms operators, known as the Network Alliance, this week, to discuss change.

At a press conference in Brussels on Monday, Mr. Oettinger said new draft proposals would be ready by the summer.

“Now the telecommunications sector has spread into a lot of other fields, data services and digital services, modernization or a general overhaul of the telecommunications legal framework is something which is on the cards this year,” he said.

Industry leaders such as Deutsche Telekom want Brussels to scrap a mandate requiring them to open their networks to competitors.

Though Mr. Oettinger is viewed as sympathetic to the telecoms, this move would likely run afoul of E.U. Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who is reluctant to hand power back to large telecoms firms. Her argument is that allowing large operators to retain use of their networks would put the whole telecoms market at the mercy of the large operators, stifling competition and ultimately resulting in higher prices overall for the consumer.

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