European Telecoms Commissioner Backs Down On Proposed Reforms


EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding has backed down on her proposed reforms of the European Union’s telecoms market, including her controversial plans to create a “super” telecoms regulator, and giving the EC power to veto national authorities. According to Reuters who saw the new proposal, Reding has agreed to accept nearly all of the amendments that parliament adopted last month which significantly revised her original reforms. As Reuters points out, this should pave the way for a final deal early next year.

Some of the reforms now likely to go through include:

— Reding has backed parliament’s amendment to thwart France’s efforts to curb internet piracy with its three-strikes policy. Under the amendment, ISPs will only be able to cut off subscribers with a court order. (In September, when parliament adopted the amendment, the French said this is not going to stop them).

— Reding will give up her dream for a pan-EU telecoms agency that would oversee markets, internet security and spectrum. She has accepted parliament’s smaller alternative, which does not cover intenret security or spectrum. The new agency is being renamed the Office for the European Telecoms Regulators (OETR).

— Reding has backed off on her proposal to give the EC veto power over national regulators, as parliament requested. As proposed by parliament, the commission would need OETR approvial to force a regulator to change a remedy.

— Reding has agreed to parliaments amendment on her proposal for “functional separation”–that is forcing operators to separate their network and services units to increase competition (as BT (NYSE: BT) was forced to do by the UK regulators). More studies will now be conducted to figure out if this is the best policy going forward.

— But Reding has dug her heels in on the allocation of spectrum. Parliament had wanted to create a new spectrum committee, but Reding has decided that parliament will instead have a joint say over EC spectrum proposals. EU states, meanwhile, will keep ultimate control over their national spectrum.

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