Monthly Archives: September 2008

NOKIA SIEMENS NETWORKS SUPPLIES UZBEKISTAN’S 3G NETWORK

Finnish telecommunications infrastructure company Nokia Siemens Networks, owned by the Finnish telecommunications solutions provider Nokia and the German electrical engineering and electronics company Siemens, announced last Wednesday that Uzbekistan’s fastest growing cellular operator FE Coscom Ltd has launched a 3G trial network in Tashkent and Samarkand.

The network, provided by Nokia Siemens Networks, is Uzbekistan’s first 3G rollout, the company said.

The Nokia Siemens Networks solution will permit download speeds of 7.2 Mbps and upload speeds of 1.4 Mbps, providing for video calls, live TV streaming, video on demand and high speed internet browsing enabled by High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) technology.

FE Coscom Ltd is a part of the TeliaSonera group and operates under the UCell trademark in Uzbekistan. TeliaSonera provides telecommunications services in the Nordic and Baltic countries, in Spain and the emerging markets of Eurasia, including Russia and Turkey.

In 2007, TeliaSonera’s net sales amounted to SEK96 billion (US$14.17 billion) and at the end of December 2007 the total number of subscriptions exceeded 114 million in 18 countries.

Nokia Siemens Networks, headquartered in Espoo, Finland, is an international telecommunications infrastructure company with operations in some 150 countries worldwide.

(UzReport.com)

TEO LT Gala TV: už bendrovės klaidas moka klientas

Turiu Gala. Grįžtu vakare iš darbo, įsijungiu TV, rašo: Klaida, šiuo metu paslauga neteikiama, skambinkinte 1817. Paskambinu (skambutis mokamas – sujungimas keliolika centų ir už minutę keliolika centų). Operatorius sako, kad paslauga atjungta, nes neapmokėta paslauga.

Čia pat pasikeliu hanzanetą, sakau, kad apmokėta tokią ir tokią dieną. Sako, čia ne mano sritis, susukite numerį dar kartą ir spauskite dvejetuką. Paprašau, kad jis sujungtų, nes man papildomai nusiskaičiuos mokestis. Po keliolikos sekundžių jis sako, kad sujungti negali, nes visos operatorės užimtos.

Paskambinu 1817 po kelių minučių, palaukiu dar 6 minutes, atsiliepia operatorė vien tam, kad pasakytų jog dabar neveikia jų sistema, kur ji gali pasižiūrėti apmokėjimą. Paprašo paskambinti rytoj. Pasakau jai, kad nenoriu už savo pinigus atsekti, kur jie padarė klaidą ir paparašau jos paskambinti man. Ji apgailestauja, kad tokios paslaugos neteikia.

Absoliučiai idealus verslo modelis: versti vartotoją ieškoti teisybės už jo pačio pinigus ir patiems tik apgailestauti. Na, o paslaugą atjungė be jokio įspėjimo.

Tiesiog dar vienas būdas increase shareholders value. Bravo, Teo.

www.skundai.lt

TeliaSonera puts ads over other peoples content with their Surf Open mobile content

TeliaSonera, the cellphone provider, has a browser with which you can connect to the web called Surf Open. When you view a web page with Surf Open, you’ll see a header, a matching menu footer, and advertisements from Telia in both areas – above the newspapers site. Basically – the browser removes any ads displayed on the newspapers site and inserts TeliaSonera’s own ads. This pissed newspapers off enough when Surf Open launched in February that over 40 newspapers joined the boycott and disabled Surf Open browsers from accessing their content. For a while, Surf Open didn’t show their own ads at all, but today they relaunched with ads again.
“The provider owns the area in the display”, says Telia’s Information Director Bengt Olsson to Medievärlden and adds “the newspapers haven’t understood how the internet works”

“I’ll assume that they misquoted him, else the man is an idiot” said Morris Packer from Expressen’s mobile content to Veckans Affärer, and Anna Serner agrees with him: “That’s like saying that the mailman owns your mailbox.”
“Everyone realizes that it is unreasonable that a distributor – in this case Telia – should make money off of advertising space that other parties – the newspapers – have already sold. A reputable company such as TeliaSonera should surely be able to generate revenue in a more responsible manner,” said Anna Serner, Managing Director of the Swedish Newspaper Publishers’ Association.

For those who think that this idea is comparable to the Opera browser’s advertising display or other (free) software that displays ads to stay free, keep in mind that TeliaSonera is a distributor that has customers paying to use this service, and they are locked to using this system only. What if the broadband internet that you paid for locked you to one browser and put their ads all over it, would you think that was OK?

Įspėja apie pavojus „Teo LT“ klientams

Nereikia jokių ypatingų sugebėjimų, kad įsilaužtum bent į 10 tūkstančių „Teo LT“ interneto vartotojų kompiuterius. Taip teigia saugumo specialistai. „Teo LT“ tvirtina, kad padaro viską, ką gali, rašo „Lietuvos rytas”.

Spraga, kuria gali pasinaudoti įsilaužėliai, palikta interneto ryšio modemuose, kuriuos tiekia „Teo LT“. Kaip teigia dienraščio kalbintas duomenų saugumo įmonės „SecuDO“ direktorius Artūras Orševskis, “kartu su interneto ryšio arba „Gala TV“ paslauga „Teo LT“ klientams tiekia ryšio modemus su savo nustatymais bei nepakeistais standartiniais slaptažodžiais”.

„Teo” klientams suteikiamoje įrangoje – belaidžio tinklo modemuose – taikomi technologiniai sprendimai užtikrina maksimalų klientų kompiuterių ir namuose įrengtų tinklų saugumą. Įrangos su standartiniais gamykliniais slaptažodžiais klientams neteikiame. Jiems yra sugeneruoti individualūs slaptažodžiai”, – DELFI teigė „Teo LT” atstovas spaudai Antanas Bubnelis.

Taip pat atstovas užtikrino, kad „gamintojai, kurių produktus teikiame savo klientams, taiko sprendimus, kurie neleidžia iš išorės prisijungti kitiems vartotojams. Bet kokie tokie bandymai prisijungti ar prisijungimai yra įsilaužimas. ir tai jau yra teisėsaugos institucijų sritis.”

Jei žmonėms kyla kokių nors nuogąstavimu dėl saugumo, atstovas siūlo kreiptis į bendrovės konsultantus.

www.delfi.lt

 

Tūkstančiai TEO LT klientų pažeidžiami programišių atakoms

TEO LT nesivargina pakeisti visuotinai žinomų gamyklinių slaptažodžių, o vartotojai nėra informuojami apie gamyklinių slaptažodžių grėsmę. Kartu su interneto ryšio arba GALA TV paslauga, TEO LT klientams tiekia ryšio modemus su TEO LT nustatymais bei nepakeistais gamykliniais slaptažodžiais.

“Pažeidžiamumas yra toks elementarus, kad esame įsitikinę, jog ne vienas dešimtis lietuvos ar užsienio programišių juo naudojasi. Raginame visus kuo skubiau pasikeisti gamyklinius įrenginių slaptažodžius.” – sakė duomenų saugumo įmonės SecuDO direktorius Artūras Orševskis.

Programišiai kelių minučių bėgyje gali atjungti interneto ryšį tūkstančiams TEO LT interneto bei GALA skaitmeninės televizijos vartotojų. Sumanesni programišiai gali netrukdomi stebėti interneto varotojų duomenų srautus, rinkti naudojamus slaptažodžius, skaityti siunčiamus el.pašto laiškus.

Būtent tokių pažeidžiamumų pagalba sužinomi vartotojų kompiuterių prisijungimo slaptažodžiai. Kompiuteriai yra užkrečiami ir prijungiami prie globalių BOTNET tinklų ir vėliau panaudojami internetinėms atakoms kokias matėme Estijoje arba Gruzijoje.

Įmonė savo svetainėje www.secudo.lt patalpino instrukcijas, kaip pasikeisti minėtus gamyklinius slaptažodžius į saugesnius.

SecuDO yra lietuviško kapitalo kompanija teikianti duomenų saugos paslaugas Lietuvos bei Latvijos rinkose. SecuDO yra uždarosios akcinės bendrovės Asorta prekinis ženklas.

verslas.banga.lt

Siūloma atnaujinti administracinės bylos procesą dėl AB “Teo LT” pastato statybų

Tokį sprendimą pasirašė Lietuvos vyriausiojo administracinio teismo (LVAT) pirmininkas Virgilijus Valančius. Teismo vadovo manymu, svarstytina, ar nėra pagrindo atnaujinti procesą administracinėje byloje dėl Vilniaus miesto tarybos sprendimu patvirtinto sklypo Lvovo g. 21 A detaliojo plano.

Priimtoje nutartyje konstatuojama, jog “viena iš tinkamo proceso garantijų yra užtikrinimas, kad šalių ginčą nagrinėtų nepriklausomas ir nešališkas teismas. Tai reiškia, kad asmens bylos negali nagrinėti teisėjas, dėl kurio nešališkumo gali kilti abejonių: teisėjas, nagrinėjantis bylą, turi būti neutralus. Teismo nešališkumas, kaip ir teismo nepriklausomumas, yra esminė žmogaus teisių ir laisvių užtikrinimo garantija bei teisingo bylos išnagrinėjimo, pasitikėjimo teismu sąlyga.”

Anot teikimą pasirašiusio teismo pirmininko, “turi būti šalinamos prielaidos, galinčios sukelti abejonių dėl teisėjo ir teismo nešališkumo. Priešingu atveju, būtų rizikuojama tuo pasitikėjimu, kurį teismai turi kelti visuomenėje, o svarbiausia – proceso šalims”.

Nutartis artimiausiu metu bus skelbiama Vyriausiojo administracinio teismo internetinėje svetainėje www.lvat.lt (Bylos nr. A-502-906-08). Cituodami arba kitaip platindami šią informaciją, prašome nurodyti informacijos šaltinį.

Kontaktinis (-iai) asmuo (-enys):
Živilė Jokimaitė- Dolgich
astovė spaudai
Lietuvos vyriausiasis administracinis teismas
Tel.:  85 2685581 , 865522510
zjokimaite@lvat.lt

Siūloma atnaujinti bylą dėl „Teo LT“ pastato statybų


Siūloma atnaujinti administracinės bylos procesą dėl AB „Teo LT“ pastato statybų. Tokį sprendimą pasirašė Lietuvos vyriausiojo administracinio teismo (LVAT) pirmininkas Virgilijus Valančius. Teismo vadovo manymu, svarstytina, ar nėra pagrindo atnaujinti procesą administracinėje byloje dėl Vilniaus miesto tarybos sprendimu patvirtinto sklypo Lvovo g. 21 A detaliojo plano.

LVAT praneša, kad priimtoje nutartyje konstatuojama, jog „viena iš tinkamo proceso garantijų yra užtikrinimas, kad šalių ginčą nagrinėtų nepriklausomas ir nešališkas teismas. Tai reiškia, kad asmens bylos negali nagrinėti teisėjas, dėl kurio nešališkumo gali kilti abejonių: teisėjas, nagrinėjantis bylą, turi būti neutralus. Teismo nešališkumas, kaip ir teismo nepriklausomumas, yra esminė žmogaus teisių ir laisvių užtikrinimo garantija bei teisingo bylos išnagrinėjimo, pasitikėjimo teismu sąlyga.“

Anot teikimą pasirašiusio teismo pirmininko, „turi būti šalinamos prielaidos, galinčios sukelti abejonių dėl teisėjo ir teismo nešališkumo. Priešingu atveju, būtų rizikuojama tuo pasitikėjimu, kurį teismai turi kelti visuomenėje, o svarbiausia – proceso šalims“.

Rugpjūčio mėnesį LVAT paliko galioti žemesnės instancijos teismo sprendimą, leidžiantį pradėti naujojo „Teo“ administracijos pastato statybos darbus.

DELFI primena, kad Vilniaus apygardos prokuratūra buvo sustabdžiusi bendrovės „Teo LT“ 15 aukštų administracinio pastato statybą sostinės Lvovo gatvėje ir dėl galimo dokumentų klastojimo pradėjo ikiteisminį tyrimą.

Buvo įtariama, kad pasinaudojus suklastotais dokumentais buvo siekiama trimis aukštais padidinti planuojamą statyti „Teo LT“ administracinį pastatą ir taip jo vertę padidinti mažiausiai 10 milijonų litų.

Į naująjį bendrovės pastatą 2010 metų pradžioje turėtų įsikels „Teo LT” centrinės būstinės bei Vilniaus regiono administracijų padaliniai, kurie šiuo metu yra skirtingose Vilniaus vietose.

Naujojo „Teo“ administracijos pastato vertė viršys 80 mln. litų.

www.delfi.lt

“Teo LT” dėl sustabdytų centrinės būstinės statybų patyrė 12 mln. litų nuostolių

 

Siūloma atnaujinti bylą dėl TEO LT statybų Vilniuje

Siūloma atnaujinti administracinės bylos procesą dėl AB  TEO LT pastato statybų, mat teisme turi būti šalinamos prielaidos, galinčios sukelti abejonių dėl teisėjo ir teismo nešališkumo, teigia sprendimą pasirašęs Virgilijus Valančius, Lietuvos vyriausiojo administracinio teismo  pirmininkas.

Teismo vadovas mano, kad derėtų atnaujinti administracinę bylą dėl Vilniaus miesto tarybos sprendimu patvirtinto sklypo  Lvovo g. 21 A detaliojo plano, mat tarp  TEO LT atstovaujančių advokatų yra ir bylą nagrinėjančio teisėjo sūnus.

Paaiškėjo, kad Lietuvos vyriausiojo administracinio teismo (LVAT) vilniečio Vytauto Petrausko ieškinį nagrinėjusios kolegijos pirmininkas Stasys Gudynas ir TEO LT interesams atstovavusios advokatų kontoros „Lideika, Petrauskas, Valiūnas ir partneriai LAWIN“ grupės vadovas Simas Gudynas – yra tėvas ir sūnus. Tokiais atvejais teisėjas turėtų nusišalinti nuo bylos nagrinėjimo.

Be to, pasak LVAT atstovų, iškilo dar viena aplinkybė – Simas Gudynas šiuo metu vadovauja turto ir aplinkosaugos praktikos grupei, taigi interesai ir vėl kertasi.

Teismo priimtoje nutartyje skelbiama:

„Viena iš tinkamo proceso garantijų yra užtikrinimas, kad šalių ginčą nagrinėtų nepriklausomas ir nešališkas teismas. Tai reiškia, kad asmens bylos negali nagrinėti teisėjas, dėl kurio nešališkumo gali kilti abejonių: teisėjas, nagrinėjantis bylą, turi būti neutralus. Teismo nešališkumas, kaip ir teismo nepriklausomumas, yra esminė žmogaus teisių ir laisvių užtikrinimo garantija bei teisingo bylos išnagrinėjimo, pasitikėjimo teismu sąlyga“.

www.vz.lt

Europe – Structural Separation – Measuring its Success in 2008

During the last two years, far-reaching regulatory reforms have been implemented by a number of countries in Europe to alter the fundamental structures of telco incumbents. The process, begun with British Telecom, has since been adapted by progressive regulators to meet individual market conditions. In practice, reforms have resulted in successful operational or functional separation, but the simple end-game has remained the same: providing regulatory clarity to promote competition, broadband take-up and sector investment. These elements are crucial to protect the long-term interests of modern economies competing for labour and investment, and preparing for the myriad of present and future IP-delivered services. This report measures the success of structural separation in 2008 from a range of perspectives.

Measuring the success of structural separation

A number of telecom markets across the globe have driven down the route to structural separation during the past two years. These are exciting developments, particularly in Europe, Asia and Oceania, made possible as much through the introduction of far-reaching regulatory reforms as through the relative fortunes of individual companies which have had greater political and commercial pressure placed on them to unshackle their various divisions, and cease being vertically integrated operators. The commercial success of BT since it underwent this process is proof that component companies can generate more value separately than they would if retained under the umbrella of the parent company.

On a question of semantics, structural separation is a notional end-game which has caused a number of incumbents to wrestle with regulators concerning the ultimate objectives. In effect, the process usually leads to operational or functional separation. Most regulators perceive structural separation as a far-reaching remedy to be pursued only if no other route to developing competition exists, and should be (and generally is) applied alongside a range of other regulatory remedies.

In each case the catalyst for this process, and the procedures thereafter undertaken, has been determined by specific scenarios and market requirements. The most common catalyst has been regulator-driven. Yet this is not to say that the affected incumbents have suffered as a consequence. In Europe, a number of different approaches have been undertaken, with greater or lesser effects on incumbents. The only true attempt at structural separation in Europe, that volunteered by eircom earlier this year, was aborted. Yet it is not so much the processes by which the structures are changed, than that the outcomes of these changes provide an equivalent outcome.

If structural separation is deemed to be successful, or not, how is it to be measured? Some guidelines would include the subsequent financial and operating performance of the incumbent, the development of LLU and the consequent maturity of competition in the broadband market, and the benefits to consumers in terms of broadband pricing, availability and bandwidth.

In Europe, structural separation has been pursued or considered by the UK, Sweden, Italy, Ireland, Denmark and Italy, among others. The UK was the first to do so, and thus presents the best model in which the effects of structural separation can be assessed.

Different approaches

Structural or functional separation means that regulators could require incumbents to provide non-discriminatory access to all operators by separating infrastructure provision from service provision. Under EC regulation national regulators cannot impose structural separation as a special obligation, but they can impose functional separation provided that existing obligations are insufficient. While national regulators and governments consider how best to achieve the desired results from this process, the glaring success story of BT continues to show how it can deliver results, both for the incumbent and for consumers. BT’s experience is discussed in greater detail below.

In Sweden, the regulator in June 2007 reported on how the company could be split into separate infrastructure and services divisions, proposing to spin off TeliaSonera’s wholesale business into a separate unit which would be responsible for the roll-out of Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FttC), as well as bitstream and LLU assets. The separate unit would be its own legal entity (a limited company), and the process was closely modelled on the BT Openreach ‘functionally separated’ model. In January 2008 TeliaSonera duly established a fully-owned infrastructure subsidiary, TeliaSonera Skanova Access, covering copper and fibre networks and multiplexing. In the following July new legislation allowed the regulator to order the separation of TeliaSonera’s network operations and retail services if the company was seen to have an unfair advantage against other operators despite other regulatory measures.

The approach taken by the Dutch regulator and KPN is again different. In March 2007 the regulator ruled that KPN did not have to splinter off its network into a separate business. It considered that while a split would help develop competition in the market, the move would also discourage other operators from developing Next Generation Networks (NGNs). The Netherlands also enjoyed the distinction of having a sufficiently developed and effective cable infrastructure to provide nationwide competition. Thus the functional break-up as per the BT model was of limited relevance to the Dutch market. Nevertheless, the model may be pursued in future if a single dominant fibre infrastructure emerged which restricted the degree to which current forms of access are offered to competitors. In the meantime, KPN has undertaken a number of internal structural changes (including memoranda of understandings with cablecos to use its networks) that provide an equivalent outcome.

For more information, see separate reports:

The regulator

From a regulatory point of view, the UK’s broadband market is a success story. By mid-2008 more than half of all UK households had a broadband connection, served by around 500 ISPs. Almost half of all unbundled exchanges now have four or more providers in them, and in many urban areas up to a dozen competing operators have equipment installed in these exchanges.

Ofcom’s determination to force structural separation on BT was largely the result of the company’s own intransigence: BT’s poor co-operation in facilitating competitor access to its network threatened to drag the UK into the lowest reaches of broadband activity in Europe. In June 2005 BT agreed in principle to abide by Ofcom’s proposals to undertake substantive changes in its organisation and behaviour. BT was obliged to provide rival operators equal access to its network, after years of procrastination, conflict and appeals. The company avoided being brought before the UK Competition Commission, while Ofcom was able to tidy up the regulatory mess resulting from several years of ad-hoc regulations devised to meet specific issues.

The result of this change was BT Openreach, formed in January 2006 (though many within the operation drop the ‘BT’ to stress its independence from BT plc). Guaranteeing network access on an ‘Equivalence of Input’ basis has since reassured LLU operators in their investments in deep level infrastructure, just as Ofcom intended.

Compared to the lamentably slow LLU growth shown until mid-2005, take-up has since increased significantly: by August 2008 there were 4.961 million unbundled lines compared to 360,000 at Openreach’s inauguration. That Openreach fulfilled only 87,000 LLU orders in August this year compared to 69,000 per week earlier in the year suggests that most competing operators have already shifted their customers onto unbundled lines.

Table 1 – UK – proportion of unbundled exchanges and connections; LLU lines – 2005 – 2008

Year

% of unbundled exchanges

% of premises connected to unbundled exchanges

% of unbundled line

LLU lines (million)

2005

12%

40%

0.7%

0.19

2006

23%

67%

5%

1.29

2007

31%

80%

13%

3.73

2008 (Aug)

37%

88%

18%

4.96

(BuddeComm)

Ofcom is in the business of removing regulation in areas where effective market competition no longer requires it. Thus earlier in 2008 it removed retail price controls on the line rental and calls for BT customers (22 years after they were first imposed). The success of LLU directly derived from BT’s structural separation can be measured by Ofcom’s recent decision to remove regulation on the broadband wholesale market, affecting 70% of the country (generally, those areas served by four or more wholesale broadband providers and where no single company has significant market power). There are few other regulators in Europe which have been able to take this step: in July 2008 the success of the Austrian LLU market encouraged the regulator there, the RTR, to a partial deregulation of wholesale broadband access in regions (covering about 45% of the population) where there was effective competition served by at least two other providers.

For more information, see the separate report: Austria – Key Statistics, Telecom Market & Regulatory Overviews.

The incumbent

From BT’s point of view, structural separation (which it instigated) has been a blessing. Far from seeing revenue downturn, BT is one of the few European incumbents to report consistent revenue and net income growth during the last two years. Unlike Telecom Austria, Deutsche Telekom, TeliaSonera and others, it has not had to announce drastic personnel cuts to keep it in the black.

The figures for both its financial and market performances are encouraging: the fledgling Openreach division saw a 1% jump in profits in the 2007 financial year (to March 2008) to almost £5.3 billion, while new wave revenue (from broadband and IT services) increased 20% (representing 39% of total revenue compared to 32% in 2006). Retail broadband revenue alone grew from ₤715 in the year to March 2006 to ₤1,084 million in the year to March 2008. The company’s retail broadband market share also increased from 25% to 35%: this growth is unique among European incumbents. In addition, the company now has more than 13 million broadband subscribers, while the proportion of retail to wholesale customers has increased from 36% in 2005 to 55% in June 2008.

Those who have worried that structural separation would lead to poorer shareholder returns have only to look again at BT’s figures: by March 2008 the company had 24 quarters of consecutive year-on-year growth in earnings per share: earnings per share grew moderately from 2002 (starting at nine pence per share) before jumping 26% in the first year of structural separation to reach about 24 pence per share in 2008. In addition, some £7.6 billion has been paid out to shareholders during the last five years.

Table 2 – BT financial data – 2006 – 2008

Year to Mar

Revenue

Operating profit

(₤ billion)

2006

19.5

2.6

2007

20.2

2.7

2008

20.7

2.9

(BuddeComm)

For more information, see the separate report: United Kingdom – Key Statistics, Telecom Market Regulatory Overviews.

The consumer

For consumers, structural separation has provided a range of benefits. Competition engendered by unhindered and equal access to BT’s networks has caused prices to plummet: an 8Mb/s service is readily available for ₤10 per month compared to ₤50 in 2004, while headline broadband speeds have doubled within the last year (to an average of 5.9Mb/s according to the regulator, though other observers put this figure as low as 3.2Mb/s). The UK is now among the most competitive broadband markets in Europe. Prices cannot realistically fall much further, and so providers differentiate their products by providing more services at faster speeds.

The national interest

The importance of telecoms infrastructure for national economies is now taken as a given by regulators and governments across Europe. For some more cautious governments, national security has delayed the process towards structural separation. Political pressure in Italy encouraged the government there to ensure that Telecom Italia’s network, viewed as a strategic asset, remain under Italian ownership. In Austria, the Republic’s investment and privatisation agency ÖIAG (which owns 27% of Telekom Austria), in May 2008 proposed splitting Telekom Austria into two publicly-listed independent units to cover fixed and mobile services. The arguments for separation emphasised that it would eliminate obstacles to competition in the last mile, while retail customers would profit from competitive markets and the country’s future economic growth would be secured by a state-of-the-art telecom infrastructure. Against structural separation was the fear that a new separated company could be bought up by foreign companies, leading to foreign control of key infrastructure.

These fears among governments are natural, but ephemeral. Far more persuasive are those arguments that to an increasing extent national interests (ranging from general economic development, employment in competitive international markets, tele-education, tele-health etc), depend on the level of broadband maturity and penetration which structural separation has been proven to deliver.

For more information, see separate reports:

www.buddeblog.com.au

EU Telecoms Reform: the 6 Most Important Issues Still Open

Today, the European Parliament will debate, in plenary session, the so-called EU Telecoms Reform. On 13 November 2007, the European Commission had proposed to the European Parliament and the Council of Telecoms Ministers to reform the EU Telecoms rules (in place since 2003) to reinforce competition and investment and to create a Single Telecoms Market in the EU with innovative cross-border services and wireless high-speed broadband for all (IP/07/1677). Following an intense debate and many hearings, the European Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy Committee (ITRE) and the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) voted on amendments on 7 July (MEMO/08/491). The debate in the European Parliament’s plenary with its 785 members is expected to pave the way for a vote on the Commission’s entire EU Telecoms reform proposals in first reading on 23 September. Depending on the outcome of the vote and the discussions in the Council of Telecoms Ministers of 27 November, a political agreement on the final legislative texts could be achieved between the three institutions by the end of the year. The new regulatory framework would then become the law in all 27 EU Member States by 2010.

The following is an overview of the 6 most important reform proposals still under discussion between the European Parliament and the Council:

1. Independence of national telecoms regulators

What has the Commission proposed? For the Commission, independent national regulators are the indispensable backbone of an efficient, fair and competition-oriented system for telecoms regulation in Europe. To improve the application of telecoms rules, the European Commission therefore wants to strengthen the independence of national telecoms regulators (such as CMT in Spain, Bundesnetzagentur in Germany, AGCOM in Italy, Ofcom in the UK, or ARCEP in France).

In the Commission’s view, national telecoms regulators should not take instructions from any other body in relation to the day-to-day performance of their tasks, and should enjoy financial and operational independence both from governments and from operators. Moreover, to strengthen the independence of the regulator, dismissal of the head of the national regulator should only be possible if certain criteria are met, such as serious misconduct.

What is the position in Parliament and Council? The proposal for stronger independence of national telecoms is supported by the European Parliament while the Council is more hesitant. The Council especially indicated that it could only accept a stronger independence of national regulators in the context of market-related regulation, but not in politically sensitive areas such as spectrum management or security.

2. Functional separation

What has the Commission proposed? The Commission wants to give national telecoms regulators the additional tool of imposing functional separation when it can be demonstrated that other remedies have failed or are likely to fail to achieve effective competition. This should increase the effectiveness of national regulators, allowing them to tackle remaining competition bottlenecks more effectively.

The implementation of functional separation aims to give all market players, including the incumbent operator’s service division and new market entrants, the same network access under equivalent conditions. Functional separation, which (unlike ownership unbundling proposed in the debate on energy markets (IP/07/1361)) does not require divestiture of assets, has already been implemented with success in the UK and several other Member States have taken steps in that direction, most recently Sweden.

Common EU rules on functional separation will ensure better regulatory convergence in the Single Market and avoid distortions of competition that could result from a divergent understanding and application of this regulatory tool.

What is the position in Parliament and Council? The Commission’s proposal has received a lot of support in the European Parliament’s lead committees, and is supported by a majority of ministers in the Telecoms Council. Furthermore, national telecoms regulators have unanimously welcomed this proposal. However, in view of the strong opposition of several incumbent operators to the introduction of the tool of functional separation, the final outcome of this debate is still uncertain.

3. Spectrum: The digital dividend and “broadband for all”

What has the Commission proposed? The Commission’s proposal for radio spectrum reform aims to achieve a more efficient and consistent management of spectrum to promote innovation and achieve high-speed “broadband for all” Internet access in Europe. The Commission also proposes a coordination of approaches in the EU to optimise the overall benefits of the digital dividend (the radio spectrum freed as a result of the switchover from analogue to digital TV), particularly by encouraging new wireless services and also new TV channels in high definition quality.

A more efficient use of this scarce public resource of a high economic and societal value, while ensuring protection against harmful interference, would be a major boost to competitiveness and innovation in Europe. The Commission expects additional economic benefits from better spectrum management in the EU to be in the region of €10 billion/year.

What is the position in Parliament and Council? The European Parliament and the Council support several of the main Commission proposals, such as a more flexible use and harmonised spectrum tradability. The European Parliament’s lead committee also has shown a legitimate interest in a stronger European coordination, inter alia by advocating the creation of a new expert committee to advise the EU institutions on spectrum-related matters. However, the Council, continues to be rather reluctant to accept any coordination of spectrum management across borders or a stronger say of the European Parliament.

In this context, the European Parliament will debate today a specific motion for a resolution on the digital dividend, prepared by MEP Mrs. Patrizia Toia. The decisive issue here is whether the Parliament will support the Commission’s proposal for a common roadmap on the digital dividend to coordinate Member States’ approaches. A positive vote would allow the Commission to launch the required preparatory work – including the launch of a socio-economic study to quantify the benefits of various options for coordination at EU level – by the end of this year.

4. Investment into new networks

What has the Commission proposed? The Commission believes that legal certainty and effective, fair regulation of network bottlenecks are the best recipe for competition and investment in the telecoms markets. In addition, the Commission’s proposal for a better management of radio spectrum (see point 3.) aims at freeing this very valuable source for new wireless services, thereby triggering more competition and attracting significant investment into these services. Furthermore, measures have been proposed by the Commission in order to improve the rules for facility sharing, by introducing in the EU’s regulatory framework provisions that allow national regulators to impose entries to building, to ducts, manholes and street cabinets.

The Commission is also working on providing further guidance to national regulators (by means of a Recommendation under the existing EU telecoms rules) with regard to the conditions under which access to so-called “next generation networks” should be granted. The need for a fair return on investment is already written into today’s telecoms rules, but a more coordinated approach of national regulators on this important matter could enhance legal certainty and the necessary level playing field for operators.

What is the position in Parliament and Council? There is a broad consensus in the Parliament and the Council about the need to maintain and strengthen competition, in particular to continue access regulation. Both Parliament and Council also support the promotion of investment into new networks as long as competition is effective. The European Parliament’s lead committee is favouring in particular clear regulatory guidance on the return on investment for new networks to which access needs to be given to ensure effective competition. In the area of spectrum, the European Parliament and the Council support several of the main Commission proposals, such as a more flexible use and harmonised spectrum tradability, but there is a certain reluctance, especially in the Council, to accept any coordination of spectrum management across borders.

5. Number portability for European consumers

What has the Commission proposed? Consumers should be able to change their fixed or mobile operator while keeping their phone number – number portability – within 1 working day. For the Commission, this is a key facilitator of consumer choice and effective competition. At the moment, it takes 8 days on average to switch a fixed or mobile operator in the EU while keeping one’s number. Europe’s best performers are France for the fixed market and, for the mobile market, Ireland and Malta. It still can take up to 30 days to switch fixed operators in Estonia and up to 20 days to switch mobile operators in Italy and Slovakia.

What is the position in Parliament and Council? The European Parliament is generally favourable to the Commission’s proposal, even though amendments have been tabled to allow a maximum of 3 days for number portability. The Council is so far hesitant to follow the Commission’s proposal, in view of the additional cost it could entail for operators.

EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding says on the issue of number portability: “In Australia, it is possible to switch operator within 2 hours – we should really be able to get this done in 1 day in Europe.”

6. European Telecoms Regulator

What has the Commission proposed? To deliver more coherent and consistent rules across the EU, the Commission proposes to create a European telecoms authority, called “European Telecoms Market Authority”. The idea behind this new authority is to create a level playing field for both telecoms operators and consumers in the EU’s emerging Single Telecoms Market. This new body would not replace national regulators, but would allow them to play a stronger and more effective role at European level, vis-à-vis both the Commission and individual regulators. It would therefore build on the experience of national regulators, and thus be close to the market.

Tools proposed by the Commission to make the new body more efficient than today’s loose cooperation among national regulators in the “European Regulators Group” (ERG) include: the move to majority voting; a small, but efficient permanent and independent staff enabling the body to swiftly and efficiently analyse and give opinions on proposals of national regulators for market analyses and remedies from 27 EU Member States; a stronger accountability of national regulators to the European Parliament; and a permanent and independent Director appointed, after a hearing by the competent European Parliament’s committee, for a term of 5 years. In order not to create a new administration at EU level, the Commission proposed to merge the new European Telecoms Authority with the already existing European Network and Information Security Agency ENISA, which already has a staff of 50.

What is the position in Parliament and Council? The European Parliament’s lead committee is keen to strengthen cooperation between national telecoms regulators and make it more effective. For this purpose the Industry Committee has proposed to create a “Body of European Regulators in Telecoms” (BERT), a Community body that would replace today’s ERG and advise the Commission, national telecoms regulators, and the European Parliament. The body would take decisions by majority and have a small, permanent staff at its disposal. If the body were to vote against a national regulators’ proposal, the Commission would request the proposal’s withdrawal.

However, in contrast to the Commission’s proposal, the new body would not be dealing with network security issues and therefore not be merged with ENISA, the mandate of which the European Parliament wants to prolong for 3 years. The Parliament’s lead committee also appears to favour having two-thirds of the new body’s budget financed by the EU Member States. The Commission instead advocates financing it from the EU budget to bolster the independence of the body and to ensure equality among the 27 national regulators within the body.

In the Council, a number of Member States agree with the need to strengthen the Single Market and cooperation among national regulators. However, many in the Council have serious reservations about the creation of a new Community body. The Council of Ministers is also against combining telecoms regulation and network security responsibilities and would like to prolong ENISA’s mandate for 3 years.

With regard to ENISA, EU Telecoms Commissioner Reding said today: “I have to accept that Parliament and Council at this moment in time do not want to reform ENISA. However, I seriously believe that network security challenges will require soon a strong, coordinated European response. Recent cyber attacks in Estonia and now again in Georgia have shown that one country alone can be very vulnerable. I call therefore on the European Parliament and the Council to start early in 2009, an intense debate on Europe’s approach to network security and on how to deal with cyber attacks and also to include the future of ENISA into these reflections. Also the new tools made available by the Lisbon Treaty should be seriously taken into account in this debate. Europe cannot afford to lose time when it comes to the security of our networks. Network security is identical to the security of our public administrations, our economy and our citizens.”

Background:

The European Commission tabled its proposals for the reform of EU Telecoms rules on 13 November 2007 (IP/07/1677, MEMO/07/458). Since then, the Council of Telecoms Ministers has debated the Commission proposals on two occasions at ministerial level (MEMO/07/522, MEMO/08/384). It is now time for the European Parliament, in full plenary session (after its Committees voted this July, (MEMO/08/491), to give its view.

Next steps:

23 September 2008: Vote on the EU Telecoms Reform Proposals in the European Parliament’s plenary.

27 November 2008: the Council of Telecoms Ministers could pave the way for a political agreement under the French Presidency.

For more information:

Parliament’s Press Release on July’s vote:

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/infopress_page/058-33580-189-07-28-909-20080707IPR33578-07-07-2008-2008-false/default_en.htm

European Commission reaction to the vote in the European Parliament’s lead Committees on 7 July: MEMO/08/491

“Progress Made on the EU Telecoms Reform Package”, Statement by EU Commissioner Reding after the Council of EU Telecoms Ministers on 12 June:
http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/newsroom/cf/itemlongdetail.cfm?item_id=4181

See also MEMO/08/552: EU Telecoms Reform: 7 Concrete Improvements for European Consumers

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