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EU Telecoms Policy

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

Digital Agenda Review - new digital priorities for 2013-2014
The European Commission has adopted seven new priorities for the digital economy and society. The digital economy is growing at seven times the rate of the rest of the economy, but the Commission says this potential is currently held back by a patchy pan-European policy framework. Today's priorities follow a comprehensive policy review and place new emphasis on the most transformative elements of the original 2010 Digital Agenda for Europe.

Harmonisation of radio frequency bands - boost for 4G
The European Commission is add another 120 MHz to the radio spectrum portfolio for 4G technologies, such as LTE (Long Term Evolution), around the 2 GHz band. This band is currently solely used for UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) wireless communications, known as 3G networks.

Galileo Satellite Navigation Agency now based in Prague
The European GNSS Agency (GSA) inaugurated its new premises in Prague on 6 September. Previously headquartered provisionally in Brussels, the GSA moved its seat to Prague over this summer, as had been agreed by the EU Heads of State and Government on 10 December 2010.

Promoting the shared use of radio spectrum resources in the internal market
In its Communication on "Promoting the shared use of radio spectrum resources in the internal market", published on 3 September, the European Commission pushes and supports EU Member States to move to an enhanced innovation-friendly internal market framework for the shared use of spectrum. Meeting the growing spectrum needs resulting from the exponential growth in wireless data traffic and the increasing importance of wireless connectivity in the economy, is limited by the absence of vacant spectrum. However, says the Commission, the radio spectrum is a unique resource that can be re-used more efficiently with advances in technologies. This makes additional spectrum resources available and lowers the spectrum access hurdles for new users. To cope with the demand and to attract investments into new technologies, the EU needs a supportive regulatory framework that enables legally binding spectrum sharing contracts between users to encourage wireless innovation in the internal market.

Telecommunication Market and Regulatory Developments 2011
Greater data consumption and a shift to mobile technologies (such as smartphones) and mobile services (such as 3G internet, music streaming and webmail) are the most significant trends in the information & communications technologies (ICT) sector, which now accounts for 8 million jobs and 6% of EU GDP, according to the Annual Digital Agenda scoreboard.

Digital Agenda Scoreboard - need for structural economic reform across Europe and surplus of ICT jobs
Europe's citizens, businesses and innovator s are generating enough digital demand to put Europe into sustainable economic growth, but failure to supply enough fast internet, online content, research and relevant skills is undermining this potential. Greater data consumption and a shift to mobile technologies (such as smartphones) and mobile services (such as 3G internet, music streaming and webmail) are the most significant trends in the information & communications technologies (ICT) sector, which now accounts for 8 million jobs and 6% of EU GDP.

Roaming - guide
The cost of using mobile phones, smartphones and tablets when travelling within the EU will fall sharply from 1 July this year, under a provisional agreement between MEPs and national governments voted in by Parliament on Thursday 10 May.

EU Roaming Regulation
Following today’s European Parliament vote approving the latest Roaming Regulation (which enters into force across the EU July 1, 2012), Monique Goyens, Director General of The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) commented:

New way forward for Galileo satellite navigation - guide
The European Commission has proposed today the new framework for the financing and governance of the two European satellite navigation programmes Galileo and EGNOS (GPS signal augmentation) for the period 2014-2020.

Connecting Europe Facility
The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) is a key EU funding instrument to promote growth, jobs and competitiveness through targeted infrastructure investment at European level. It supports the development of high performing, sustainable and efficiently interconnected trans-European networks in the fields of transport, energy and digital services. CEF investments fill the missing links in Europe's energy, transport and digital backbone.

Connecting Europe Facility - guide
The European Commission has today tabled a plan which will fund €50 billion worth of investment to improve Europe's transport, energy and digital networks. Targeted investments in key infrastructures will help to create jobs and boost Europe's competitiveness at a time when Europe needs this most. The "Connecting Europe Facility" will finance projects which fill the missing links in Europe's energy, transport and digital backbone. It will also make Europe's economy greener by promoting cleaner transport modes, high speed broadband connections and facilitating the use of renewable energy in line with the Europe 2020 Strategy. In addition the funding for energy networks will further integrate the internal energy market, reduce the EU's energy dependency and bolster the security of supply.

Public consultation on the application, monitoring and enforcement of non-discrimination obligations in electronic communications
The European Commission has launched two public consultations related to access for alternative operators to the fixed telephone and broadband networks of established operators. The consultations are part of Commission efforts to boost the Single Market for telecoms services by ensuring consistent and coherent approaches to regulating telephone and broadband networks in all Member States. The first consultation concerns non-discriminatory access for alternative operators to the infrastructure and services of dominant telecom operators. The second concerns the way national regulators calculate prices that operators have to pay for this wholesale access (cost-orientation remedies). The results will help the Commission to draft Recommendations for a consistent, investment-friendly application of non-discrimination and price control remedies.

Public consultation on costing methodologies for key wholesale access prices in electronic communications
The European Commission has launched two public consultations related to access for alternative operators to the fixed telephone and broadband networks of established operators. The consultations are part of Commission efforts to boost the Single Market for telecoms services by ensuring consistent and coherent approaches to regulating telephone and broadband networks in all Member States. The first consultation concerns non-discriminatory access for alternative operators to the infrastructure and services of dominant telecom operators. The second concerns the way national regulators calculate prices that operators have to pay for this wholesale access (cost-orientation remedies). The results will help the Commission to draft Recommendations for a consistent, investment-friendly application of non-discrimination and price control remedies.

E-Communications Household Survey - Eurobarometer 362
Four out of ten Europeans households are buying "bundled" internet, phone and TV services from a single provider, a new Eurobarometer survey shows. The survey also found that 65% of people limit their mobile phone calls because of cost and that calls over the Internet are becoming increasingly popular. The E-Communications Household Survey was carried out between 9 February and 8 March 2011 using a sample of 27,000 households that are representative of the EU population. One in four respondents considered that their internet download/upload speeds do not match the conditions of the contract they signed and one in three said they have experienced connection breakdowns.

Major new rules for roaming in the EU
Today sees new European Commission rules proposing to change the face of Europe’s telecommunications market and further reduce the roaming cost of calls, texts and, for the first time, data usage. These rules would be applicable as of 1st July 2012.

EC proposal for a Regulation on mobile roaming - guide
A proposal for a long-term solution to the continued high cost of using mobile phones and other mobile devices whilst travelling in the EU (roaming) has been presented by the European Commission (see IP/11/835). The directly binding Regulation proposed would for the first time introduce structural measures to boost competition by allowing customers from 1 July 2014, if they so wish, to sign up for a cheaper mobile roaming contract, separate from their contracts for national mobile services, whilst using the same phone number. The proposal would also give mobile operators (including so-called virtual mobile operators, who do not have their own network) the right to use other operators' networks in other Member States at regulated wholesale prices, and so encourage more operators to compete on the roaming market. To cover the period until structural measures become fully effective and competition drives retail prices down, the proposal would progressively lower current retail price caps on voice and texting (SMS) services and introduce a new retail price cap for mobile data services. This guide answers questions on issues arising from this proposal.

Commission decision against Telekomunikacja Polska
The European Commission has imposed a fine of €127 554 194 on telecoms operator Telekomunikacja Polska S.A. (TP) for abusing its dominant position in Poland in breach of EU antitrust rules (Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU). As a dominant company TP is under an obligation to allow remunerated access to its network and wholesale broadband services in order to allow the effective entry of alternative operators on downstream telecoms markets. But it consistently refused to do so or made it difficult for more than four years.

European Satellite Radio Navigation Programmes Galileo and EGNOS - guide
The launch of the first two operational satellites of the EU's global navigation satellite system will take place on 20th October, the European Commission has announced. This is just the first of a series of launches due to take off from Europe's Space Port in Kourou, French Guiana. The launch of the Galileo satellites at an altitude of 23.600km will lead to the provision of initial satellite navigation services in 2014. Successive launches will complete the constellation by 2019.

Europeans use mobile phones more when travelling abroad, but still worry about costs: EU survey
Almost three quarters of Europeans are worried about the cost of using their mobile phone when travelling in the EU a survey released by the European Commission shows. 72% of travellers still limit their roaming calls because of high charges even if a majority is aware that prices have fallen since 2006. Only 19% of people who use internet-related services on their mobile phones when abroad think the costs of data-roaming for (Internet surfing or checking e-mails) are fair. The results of this survey, plus the public consultation on the future of the Roaming Regulation, which closed on 11th February, will feed into the Commission's review of current EU roaming rules, due by June 2011. The performance target set by the Digital Agenda for Europe is that the differences between roaming and national tariffs should approach zero by 2015.

Special Eurobarometer survey: roaming in 2010
Almost three quarters of Europeans are worried about the cost of using their mobile phone when travelling in the EU a survey released by the European Commission today shows. 72% of travellers still limit their roaming calls because of high charges even if a majority is aware that prices have fallen since 2006. Only 19% of people who use internet-related services on their mobile phones when abroad think the costs of data-roaming for (Internet surfing or checking e-mails) are fair. The results of this survey, plus the public consultation on the future of the Roaming Regulation, which closed on 11th February, will feed into the Commission's review of current EU roaming rules, due by June 2011.

One charger for all
Europe's major mobile phone manufacturers have agreed to adopt a universal charger for data-enabled mobile phones sold in the EU and as of 2011 you will only need one charger for all. This follows an ultimatum from the European Commission in March 2009 which gave the mobile phone industry an ultimatum to voluntarily adopt common standards for chargers or be subject to mandatory EU legislation.

A common European mobile phone charger - guide
In March 2009 the European Commission gave the mobile phone industry an ultimatum to voluntarily adopt common standards for chargers or be subject to mandatory EU legislation. In June 2009, Europe's major mobile phone manufacturers agreed to adopt a universal charger for data-enabled mobile phones sold in the EU. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed by 14 manufacturers, which commits the industry to provide charger compatibility on the basis of the micro-USB connector. In the first months of 2011, European consumers will be able to purchase a standard mobile phone charger for all data-enabled phones - including smartphones - sold in all 27 EU Member States.

Digital Agenda: broadband speeds increasing but Europe must do more
Broadband connections in Europe are much faster than one year ago according to statistics published today by the European Commission. In July 2010 29% of EU broadband lines had speeds of at least 10 megabits per second (Mbps) (up from 15% one year earlier). Broadband take-up continues to grow in the EU with 25.6 subscriptions for every 100 citizens (23.9 one year earlier). Annual growth in mobile broadband is remarkable at 45%, with 6 mobile broadband dedicated access devices (usb-keys or dongles) per 100 citizens. But there is still a long way to go before EU reaches its targets of giving every European access to basic broadband by 2013 and fast and ultra fast broadband by 2020 as outlined in the EU's Digital Agenda for Europe. Measures to facilitate the roll out and take up of fast and ultra-fast broadband in the EU were presented by the Commission in September 2010.

EU slaps Deutsche Telekom with EUR 12.6m fine
The European Court of Justice has upheld a fine of EUR 12.6 million originally imposed by the Commission in 2003 for anti competitive behaviour in the German internal market.

Fast and ultra-fast broadband in Europe - consumer - business guide
Three complementary measures to facilitate the roll out and take up of fast and ultra-fast broadband in the EU have been adopted today by the European Commission. Giving all European citizens and businesses access to a fast and ultra-fast broadband internet connection is one of the key objectives of the Digital Agenda for Europe, the EU's plan to maximise the social and economic impact of Information and Communication Technologies, and the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The measures presented today set out a common regulatory approach for access to new high-speed fibre networks, propose a 5-year policy programme for radio spectrum to ensure, inter alia, that spectrum is available for wireless broadband and outline how best to encourage private and public investment in fast and ultra-fast broadband networks. Practical examples of exactly how the measures stand to benefit people and businesses are outlined below.