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Lithuania withdraws proposed regulation on telecoms

On 16 March 2010 the Lithuanian Authority, Ryšių reguliavimo tarnyba (RRT), informed the European Commission that it was withdrawing its proposed measure on network infrastructure access markets. These access services are used by alternative operators to connect their customers to telecoms services like telephone and internet. The Commission had earlier this month raised serious doubts about the compatibility of the proposed regulation with the principles of EU competition law and EU's telecoms rules and had launched a two month investigation. RRT has now indicated to the Commission that it intends to revise its findings and notify the revised measure to the Commission.

EU Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: "The withdrawal of this measure will allow the Lithuanian regulator to address the concerns raised by the Commission. We will work together with RRT to resolve this matter so that it does not restrict competition on the telecoms market or penalise Lithuanian consumers."

On 11 January 2010, the Lithuanian telecoms regulator notified the Commission of its plans to regulate the market for unbundled access to local lines, i.e. the "last mile" of a telecoms network before reaching the customer. Technically, the line connecting a specific consumer can be separated from the other lines (the "bundle") traditionally owned by the incumbent and can be used by alternative operators to provide broadband and fixed telephone services to that customer.

The Lithuanian national telecoms regulator had identified differences between unbundled access provided through copper lines and optical fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) local lines and had defined separate copper and FTTH access markets. In addition, RRT had proposed to exclude unbundled access through fibre-to-the-building (FTTB) lines from both markets.

The Commission was concerned that the market definition proposed by RRT was not in line with the principles of competition law and EU telecoms rules and called for further market clarifications and data from RRT and market players.

The Lithuanian regulator has now withdrawn its measure. RRT will revise its findings and notify its revised measure to the Commission at a later stage.

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