Writing digital history: game changer policies for a connected Digital Single Market

Brussels, 30 June 2015: Today, the ECTA Conference gathered policy-makers, regulators, industry stakeholders and representatives of consumers to discuss the next forward-looking step: the future challenges to build a Digital Single Market.

The Digital Single Market strategy’s staff working document recognises the importance of competition in the markets  by underlining that “The regulatory framework was crucial in driving take-up of broadband: currently 78% of homes subscribe to broadband compared to only 15% in 2004. At the same time, broadband has become more affordable, as retail prices decreased by over 20% between 2009 and 2014.”
While this statement concerns copper networks, Hubertus von Roenne, Chairman of ECTA emphasised that “effective competition is also a key driver of investments in fibre technologies and of take-up. It is clear that after deregulation happened in some parts of the world, less private investment took place. Necessity is the mother of invention: a monopoly or a cosy duopoly will never deliver the expected results in terms of investments or innovation. A deregulatory path putting competition at risk is thus not the way forward. It is the way backwards. On the contrary, the only way to foster investments by all players is to push for more pro-competitive access solutions: if we want to maximise network investments it is imperative to guarantee genuine physical access as well as fit-for-purpose high-quality business grade wholesale products.”

Affordable prices are the other challenge, underlined Erzsébet Fitori, Director of ECTA “figures speak for themselves: according to the new European Commission’s Digital Agenda Scoreboard published two weeks ago, Europe has a 68% Next Generation Access coverage but take-up of ultrafast services remains very low at only 9%. Prices are simply too high because incumbent operators still have a 69% market share in the most widespread fibre technology . That means that in the absence of competition there is no incentive to offer services and choice to the consumers at affordable prices.”

Another heated discussion of the ECTA conference was the different technologies available to roll-out networks, “there is no presumption of innocence in the technological choices which are made continued Erzsébet Fitori. As stated by the European Commission on 15 June in its approval of a State aid scheme in Germany to support high speed internet roll-out, a “technology [which] does not ensure open access to the network, which is a requirement of the Broadband Guidelines, […] cannot be used in state funded projects.

Therefore ECTA and its members call on the policy-makers for a regulation and public funding mechanisms including the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) which focus on enabling the deployment of open access fibre networks allowing all operators –big and small- to invest and compete.

For more information about the ECTA Conference 2015, visit the website and follow it on twitter #ECTAConf15

ECTA (the European Competitive Telecommunications Association - www.ectaportal.com) is the pan-European pro-competitive trade association that represents more than 100 of the leading challenger telecoms operators across Europe. For over a decade, ECTA has been supporting the regulatory and commercial interests of telecoms operators, ISPs & equipment manufacturers in pursuit of a fair regulatory environment that allows all electronic communications providers to compete on level terms. Our members have been the leading innovators in Internet services, broadband, business communications, entertainment and mobile.

Aurélie Bladocha, Public Affairs Manager (+32 478 78 61 00/ abladocha(at)ectaportal.com).

[1]  p.34-35
[2]  VDSL


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