Brussels is urged to push ahead with deregulation

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Brussels is urged to push ahead with deregulation

The chiefs of some of the largest telecoms providers in Europe have urged the European Commission to take definitive action to implement plans for deregulating the market. The companies have warned leaders in the European Union that their hopes for a connected digital single market could be at risk if they do not push ahead with deregulation.

BT, Telefonica, Orange and Deutsche Telekom were among the providers whose Chief Executive Officers wrote a joint communication to ministers responsible for telecoms, cautioning that proposed changes to the reform of the Electronic Communications Code and ePrivacy Regulation could have a damaging effect on the attempt to channel greater investment into 5G and fibre technologies.

The executives said that they wrote the letter because of their concerns with regards to the direction of debates on the reforms. The CEOs said that they were worried that the initial focus on strategy to improve innovation and investment appeared to have been sidelined.

Andrus Ansip and Günther Oettinger, both European Commissioners, detailed the original plans in September of last year. These plans set out the intention to reduce regulation while motivating different telecoms providers to pool efforts to improve infrastructure in areas of poor connectivity and combine investments in fibre technology.

The proposals had met with some opposition, with criticism from lobby organisations like Open Democracy. Concerns regarding competition have also been raised by members of the European Parliament. Parliament wants to involve the European Economic Community in regulating the cost of international calls, and it is feared that this could have a significant impact on businesses already under pressure to maintain profits affected by the Roam Like At Home plans.

The CEOs’ letter asserts it could cost more than €600 million to make really fast connectivity standard everywhere, and said that this was not compatible with drawing value from the business systems. Additionally, the CEOs requested that regulators put forward equal and fair rules, that would extend choices for customers in digital services.

The business leaders sent their letter via the European Telecommunications Network Operators Association. The letter stated that their business systems would go on collaborating with the ecosystem of digital services to ensure delivery of the Gigabit Society and Digital Single Market proposal. The letter urged EU leaders and governments to employ ambitious moves that were in favour of innovation and investment to support the region’s digital economy. The document added that measures like this would bring benefits to European customers and would support growing the economy and being competitive globally.

The full list of CEOs who signed the letter is: Gavin Patterson, CEO of BT, Sigve Brekke, President and CEO of the Telenor Group, Eelco Blok, Chairman and CEO of KPN, Johan Dennelind, president and CEO of the Telia Company, Edmond Brincat, acting CEO of Go Malta, Timotheus Höttges, CEO of Deutsche Telekom, Stéphane Richard, chairman and CEO of Orange, Giuseppe Recchi, executive chairman of Telecom Italia, José María Alvarez Pallete, CEO and chairman of Telefónica, Paul Doany. CEO of Türk Telekom, Alejandro Plater, CEO of the Telekom Austria Group, Dominique Leroy, CEO of Proximus and Atanas Dobrev, the CEO of the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company.