ETNO Chairman: EU Telecom Regulations Overhaul a 'Starting Point'
By Frances Robinson
BRUSSELS--The European Union's proposed overhaul of telecommunications regulations is a starting point to foster investment in the sector, but more needs to be done, the executive board chairman of the EU's major telecom lobby group will say Tuesday.
The plan to change rules should "support the required costly investments in new high-capacity infrastructures by establishing a clear deregulatory agenda, given the high degree of competition already achieved in the EU," Luigi Gambardella will say at a conference hosted by the European Telecommunications Network Operators' association, according to a text of his speech.
He will add, however, that there should be greater oversight of so-called over-the-top, or OTT, providers, such as Google Inc. (GOOG) and Apple Inc. (AAPL), which compete with traditional telecom companies for services such as messaging and voice calling.
"This should be done by ensuring best-in-class levels of privacy and security and by avoiding gatekeepers working across the value chain," according to the speech.
"For this reason, it is paramount to establish a real level playing field, especially between OTT services and telecom services, which will ensure that nobody enjoys unfair competitive advantages and that consumers can enjoy the same rights when using the same services," he added.
Last month, Neelie Kroes, the EU's commissioner for the digital agenda, set out what the commission called "the most ambitious plan in 26 years of telecoms reform," with the aim of ending cellphone roaming fees and make international fixed-line calls the same price as domestic calls.
It didn't include regulating Internet giants such as Facebook Inc. (FB) and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), but France has been pushing for this measure for some time and will mention it when EU leaders meet later this month.
Write to Frances Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org
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