The European Comission has approved the proposal of the UK telecoms regulator Ofcom to de-regulate the wholesale broadband market in some parts of the UK, covering around 65% of all UK homes and businesses.
The rationale for deregulation is that fewer and simpler regulations will lead to a raised level of competitiveness, and consequently lower broadband prices overall, according to Chris Ducker, senior product manager at ntl:Telewest.
"Ofcom needs to carefully consider whether serious competition really exists in all regions, not just for consumers, but for local businesses. Although it is good news that the EC believes competition has significantly improved, we should ask ourselves: are we yet at a time when regulation can be removed with complete peace of mind?"
The Commission supports Ofcom's proposal, which is based on detailed economic evidence, to deregulate local exchanges with four or more actual or potential providers serving areas with more than 10,000 homes and businesses.
This is the first time that a national telecoms regulator in the EU has identified different broadband markets in different geographic areas within a country and proposed lifting regulation in those geographic areas now characterised by effective competition.
"In the more densely populated areas of the UK, consumers have the choice between different broadband suppliers, which have rolled out their own infrastructure. For many of these areas ex-ante regulation is no longer warranted", said Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes. "However, at this crucial phase of broadband development across Europe, it is also important to ensure consistency across Member States.
The UK's new broadband minister was unavailable for comment.