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EU Telecoms Policy

Latest news about the European Union's policy on telecommunications.

Geographical eInclusion
The European Union is committed to ensuring that the continent’s more remote and economically disadvantaged regions get the support they need to share in the benefits of economic growth. Digital technologies such as broadband internet access can play their part in narrowing disparities between regions and help to promote social and economic cohesion. The European Commission supports actions to develop an inclusive Information Society which embraces those who live in geographically less accessible areas.

Broadband Gap Policy
Broadband gap policy is concerned with the geographical aspects of the digital divide among EU regions. This policy seeks to bridge the gap of access, speed, quality of service and price in broadband between urban and rural/remote areas. The European Commission aims to achieve 100 % high-speed internet coverage for all citizens by 2010 as part of the European Economic Recovery Plan.

Competition in the markets in telecommunications terminals
The purpose of the European Commission's Directive 88/301/EEC is to liberalise the markets in telecommunications terminal equipment. It provides for the abolition of special or exclusive rights to import, market, connect, bring into service and maintain telecommunications terminal equipment.

EU Telecommunications Contacts

Implementation and enforcement of EU Telecoms rules
The liberalisation of the European telecommunications market from 1998 has brought more competition to the markets, and in turn brought major benefits to consumers in the form of lower prices and better services. Market regulation has nonetheless continued to be necessary and the European Commission oversees it is correctly implemented and enforced to ensure that consumers benefit to the maximum.

Proposals for Reform
The European Commission’s proposals for the review of the telecoms framework are the result of two years of consultations with stakeholders, with national regulators and with users of telecoms services. Once adopted at EU level, the revised rules have to be incorporated into national law before taking effect. The Commission expects the new framework to be in place from 2010 onwards.

Reforming EU telecom rules
The current rules which govern the telecoms sector in the EU were agreed in 2002. In this fast-developing sector, the regulatory framework needed to be revised, to ensure it continues to serve the best interests of consumers and industry in today’s marketplace. An agreement on the EU Telecoms Reform was reached by the European Parliament and Council of Ministers on 4 November 2009, after two years of discussion during the legislative process. The new rules will now need to be transposed into national laws of the 27 Member States by May 2011.

Regulatory framework for telecoms in the EU today
The EU legal framework for regulating telecommunications services has been developed with the aim of developing a better-functioning internal market for telecommunications networks and services. Last revised in 2002, this framework is currently being updated to take account of developments in this fast-moving field.

EU invests EUR 18m in future ultra high-speed mobile internet - briefing
As of 1 January 2010, the European Union will invest EUR 18 million into research that will underpin next generation 4G mobile networks. The European Commission has decided to start the process of funding research on Long Term Evolution (LTE) Advanced technology, that will offer mobile internet speeds up to a hundred times faster than current 3G networks. LTE is becoming the industry's first choice for next generation mobile networks, also thanks to substantial EU research funding since 2004. 25 years ago, Europe already made the GSM standard the backbone of modern mobile telephony. Based on Europe's joint research and the strength of the EU's single market, the GSM standard is today used by 80% of the world's mobile networks. LTE promises to be a similar success as EU-funded research continues to bring cutting-edge technology to the daily lives of Europeans.

Conference on the deployment of innovative broadband networks
A conference dedicated to 'Improving the deployment of innovative broadband networks in European regions' will be held on 9 October in Brussels, Belgium.

Transport Network Strategies
TNS is EMEA's premier event for operator transport networking professionals wishing to develop a realistic and comprehensive understanding of the transport technologies on offer and the network evolution strategies adopted by their competitors.

IMS Global Congress
This year sees some exciting changes to the event which promise even more value for those taking part. Firstly, IIR is making 100 free delegate passes available to operators to ensure that IMS professionals can take advantage of the networking and learning opportunities available despite the current economic climate. Secondly, in order to encourage more networking and interaction between attendees, the event will feature more informal discussion sessions and some vendor spotlight sessions.

Mobile Termination Rates Compliance Forum
Mobile Termination Rates Compliance Forum 30th November – 1st December 2009 Crowne Plaza London, St. James

Key Audiovisual and Media Policies of the European Union: eCommunications
To improve innovation and increase efficiency in the telecommunications sector, the European Union promotes increased competition through a series of regulatory rules.

EU cuts the cost of texting and mobile data services abroad - briefing
As of today, sending a text message from abroad in the EU costs a maximum EUR 0.11, almost three times cheaper than the previous EU average of EUR 0.28 (excl. VAT). To make a roamed call in another EU country must not cost more than EUR 0.43 per minute, and no more than EUR 0.19 to receive a call. From today, outgoing roaming calls will be charged by the second, after the first 30 seconds, rather than by the minute, and incoming calls will be charged by the second from the first second. Holidaymakers and business travellers can also surf the web, download movies or send photos with their mobile without fear of ‘bill shocks’ while roaming thanks to a wholesale cap of EUR 1 per megabyte (MB) downloaded. All these measures are expected to cut roaming charges for EU consumers by a further 60% and increase mobile phone use. The EU first acted on roaming in 2007 reducing the cost of voice roaming calls by 70%.

EU harmonisation of mobile phone chargers - briefing
Incompatibility of chargers for mobile phones is a major inconvenience for users and also leads to unnecessary waste. Therefore, the Commission has requested industry to come forward with a voluntary commitment to solve this problem so as to avoid legislation. As a result major producers of mobile phones have agreed to harmonise chargers in the EU. In a Memorandum of Understanding (“MoU”), which was submitted to the Commission today, the industry commits to provide chargers compatibility on the basis of the Micro-USB connector. In addition new EU standards to ensure continued safe charger use will be developed to facilitate the implementation of the MoU. The first generation of new inter-chargeable mobile phones should reach the EU market from 2010 onwards.

European Commission consultation on regulatory strategy to promote very high speed Internet in Europe - briefing
The European Commission has launched a public consultation on its revised proposals for the regulation of Next Generation Access (NGA) broadband networks, in the form of a draft Commission Recommendation. A previous public consultation held during the last quarter of 2008 confirmed general support for the objective of the Commission to achieve a common regulatory framework for NGA in order to foster timely investment in very high speed networks while ensuring that the competitive structure of the market is maintained. In the light of comments from stakeholders, the revised draft Recommendation includes mechanisms to allocate the investment risk between investors and operators seeking access to NGA networks. The draft Recommendation forms part of the European Broadband Strategy that the March European Council invited the Commission to develop by the end of 2009. The public consultation will be open until 24 July 2009. The Commission plans to adopt the Recommendation, taking account of comments received, before the end of 2009.

Carrier Ethernet World APAC
Carrier Ethernet World Asia Pacific is the largest meeting place and educational forum for the Ethernet transport and services industry in the APAC region.

Mobile phone termination rates - briefing
The European Commission has today set out clear guidance for EU telecoms regulators on the cost-based method to be used when calculating termination rates – the wholesale fees charged by operators to connect the call from another operator's network which are part of everyone's phone bill. The guidance is in the form of a "Recommendation" that national regulators are obliged to take "the utmost account" of. The Recommendation indicates specifically that termination rates at national level should be based only on the real costs that an efficient operator incurs to establish the connection. Eliminating price distortions between phone operators across the EU will lower consumer prices for voice calls within and between Member States, saving business and household customers at least EUR 2 billion in 2009-2012, and help investment and innovation in the entire telecoms sector. Mobile termination rates varied widely in the EU in 2008 from 2.00 euro cents per minute (in Cyprus) to 15 euro cents per minute (in Bulgaria). Mobile termination rates (on average 8.55 euro cents per minute) are also typically 10 times higher than fixed termination rates (on average ranging from 0.57 to 1.13 euro cents per minute). Higher mobile termination rates make it harder for fixed and small mobile operators to compete with large mobile operators. These divergences, and differing regulatory approaches, undermine the Single Market and Europe's competitiveness.

Cost of roaming texts, calls and data services to fall from 1 July - briefing
A text message sent from abroad in the EU will cost no more than EUR 0.11 as of 1 July, instead of EUR 0.28 today. The times when consumers had to expect "bill shocks" for downloading a picture or a movie with a mobile phone while roaming in the EU are over. The European Parliament, in its plenary session in Strasbourg, today voted by a large majority in favour of new EU rules on SMS and data roaming, proposed by the European Commission in September 2008. The Parliament also voted for further cuts in the price of mobile phone calls while roaming in another EU country. The present cap for a mobile phone call made abroad will progressively drop from EUR 0.46 to EUR 0.35 per minute by July 2011, and from EUR 0.22 today to EUR 0.11 for mobile calls received while roaming abroad. Mobile operators will also be required to bill roaming calls by the second from the 31st second at the latest, which will end the current practice under which consumers are overcharged by up to 24%. As the Council of EU Telecoms Ministers has already signalled its agreement with the new roaming rules, today's vote paves the way for an entry into force of the new rules just in time for the summer holidays. European consumers are expected to save up to 60% on their bill for using a mobile phone abroad in the EU.

Faster and cheaper broadband: Commission study
European consumers paid less for their fixed broadband internet access (DSL, cable modem, fibre) in 2008 than a year ago according to a study released today by the European Commission. However, there are significant differences between EU Member States in broadband retail prices and cost structure for similar products. The Commission says EU rules should be consistently applied in a telecoms single market for all businesses and consumers equally.

Single European Telecoms Market 2008 progress report - briefing
Europe leads the world in mobile phone services with the number of subscriptions in 2008 at 119% of the EU population (up 7 percentage points from 2007), well ahead of the US (87%) and Japan (84%). This is a finding of today's European Commission progress report on the single telecoms market. Despite the economic crisis, the EU's telecoms sector (worth about 3% of EU GDP) continued to grow in 2008 with revenues estimated at above EUR 300 billion, up 1.3% compared to 2007 and outperforming the rest of the economy (up by 1% only). Consumers gain the most from the sector's competitiveness: they pay less while getting better value for money. Average mobile phone bills have fallen from EUR 21.48 to EUR 19.49 in 2008 and 75% of European consumers now have internet connections of 2 megabits per second and above (speeds allowing, for example, TV over internet), thanks to EU action. However, the Commission's report also warns that without better European coordination, the benefits of a single telecoms market could be jeopardised by inconsistent national regulation.

Optimising & Evolving 3G Networks 2009
Optimising & Evolving 3G Networks 2009 15th – 18th June Barcelona

Number Portability ME

Pan-European numbers and services
With more mobility for citizens in Europe it is seen as increasingly important that access to essential services does not depend on ‘local knowledge’. Harmonisation and coordination of telecommunications services provide opportunities to introduce unified numbers as well as services to benefit citizens all over the EU. These include the single European emergency number 112 and the 116 range of numbers for social services. In future Europeans will be also able to benefit from pan-European mobile satellite services.