EC calls for local loop legislation

Mario Monti, the European Commissioner for competition policy, has called for a loosening of legal restrictions in a bid to...

Mario Monti, the European Commissioner for competition policy, has called for a loosening of legal restrictions in a bid to stimulate activity in the sector.

Speaking at a UBS Warburg conference in Barcelona, Monti said there were few remaining incentives for new entrants to provide services. He also accused telecom companies of delaying the delivery of unbundled lines or proposing non-competitive access conditions and procedures, while at the same time taking advantage of their control of the local loop to market ADSL broadband services.

Monti warned against the danger of the EU information society being developed under a "de facto monopolistic regime". He implied that action against the telecom incumbents could follow the results of an inquiry being conducted among potential new entrants.

Monti also spoke of the commission's frustration over the roaming prices charged by mobile phone companies and warned of tighter regulation in this area. "I still see problems in roaming markets which are not being solved by the new single-rate schemes that are currently being introduced," he said.

He added that if applying EU competition rules to roaming proved to be impracticable, "then we may need to take steps to ensure that roaming is regulated and becomes cost-orientated - which it is manifestly not at the moment".

The commissioner denied that Brussels was planning to ban mobile network infrastructure sharing for third-generation (3G) mobile phones. "If consumers do not suffer from these types of arrangements, we will not oppose them," he said.

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