EC telecom super-regulator creation reviewed

As part of an ongoing review of telecoms regulations, the European Commission is reviewing the creation of a European-wide regulatory body to deal with particularly powerful organizations, like incumbent operators such as BT.


A study into the creation of a pan-EU telecoms regulator, ‚ÄúPreparing the Next Steps in Regulation of Electronic Communications‚ÄĚ, was conducted by Brussels law firm Hogan & Hartson and London-based Analysys.

The EC said in a statement: "Several respondents suggested that enhanced Community control over remedies would facilitate greater harmonisation and availability of consistent wholesale products across the EU."

The majority of respondents said improvements of one form or another were needed in either the regulations or their implementation.

But the problems pointed out were varied, including the weakness of national regulators, un-harmonised implementation, lack of pan-European services in general, and uneven application of existing regulations.

"The only consistent message from these responses is that implementation needs to be completed, and in some cases improved, a finding that we see repeated frequently," the study said.

With regard to the establishment of a European regulatory authority (ERA), "more respondents were opposed... than supported the idea," the report concluded. A number of organizations, particularly alternative operators, said an ERA would be better at applying regulation to large, powerful businesses because it wouldn't have any vested interest in the national status quo.

From the UK point of view, a European regulator would make no sense according to RedMonk analyst James Governor. "It sounds like bad news, mainly because after years of appalling and unsuccessful regulation in this country, the telecoms sector has finally got its act together," he told Techworld. "There is a lot of competition. I can't see outside regulation being helpful at this point."

The EC released another study that found regulation was essential to continue attracting investment to the telecoms sector. And a third study found that regulation at the wholesale level was enough to keep the sector in line, and that retail regulation could be largely scrapped.

The three studies are available on the EC's website.

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