A Single Market for Telecoms?

On 11 September, the European Commission tabled a proposal for a new regulation entitled ‘Connected Continent’, which would create a ‘Telecom Single Market’. Operators could expand to offer their services to consumers throughout the EU, but they would be regulated only once, by their home regulator. Net neutrality would be ensured, so that users can access the content of their choice on the Internet, without hindrance. Consumers would get improved contractual conditions, such as 6 month contracts; they would also benefit from yet lower roaming charges. And the continued rise of demand for mobile access would be met with more EU-wide spectrum coordination and measures to spur the growth of Wi-Fi.

Despite these bold aims, the proposal faces significant hurdles, with much of the detail being under intense scrutiny: some operators worry about the way wholesale access requirements would be defined; a few still refuse to abide by net neutrality; many complain about facing yet another regulation on roaming; regulators complain about the lack of consultation by the Commission and about some of the technical and implementation of the proposals; and governments have already expressed concern at what they see as yet another attempt by Brussels to gain more power, notably on spectrum. Plus, politically we face European elections in the spring, and a completely new European Commission by the end of 2014.

This ambitious proposal promises many months of fierce and exciting debate.  To delve deeper into this topic the International Institute of Communications is hosting a panel discussion with representatives from the many stakeholder groups interested and active in these negotiations. The currently confirmed speakers include:

•           Rick Holyomes, Team Leader – EU ICT Policy Department for Culture, Media & Sport

           Sumedha Pathak, Policy Adviser, Which

•           Markus Reinisch, Group Director, Public Policy, Vodafone Group

•           Larry Stone, President Group Public & Government Affairs, BT

•           James Waterworth, Vice President Europe, Communications and Content Industry Association (CCIA)

•           Daniel Wilson, Head of International Policy, BBC

•           Ann LaFrance, Global TMT Partner, Squire Sanders will moderate the panel and debate

The event: The EC ‘Connected Continent’ Regulation proposal: a Single Market for Telecoms at last? takes place on Tuesday, 14 January at 5pm (for a 5.3opm start) and is being hosted by Squire Sanders, at 7 Devonshire Square, London EC2M 4YH. Numbers are limited and you are advised to register as soon as possible. The event is free to IIC Members and £30 for non-Members.  Click here to download the registration form or complete and return the attached registration form to j.grimshaw@iicom.org with CH01 -14 in the subject heading, or phone: +44 (0)20 8417 06