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No regulatory holiday for telecoms players, says Kroes

The EC’s digital agenda goals can best be met by maximising competition and not by granting “regulatory holidays” to incumbent telecom players, according to Neelie Kroes, vice-president of the European Commission.

It is clear that the EC’s broadband goals will require significant investment, said Kroes, speaking at the Cable Congress in Brussels yesterday. Calls to grant players a regulatory holiday “is not the right way forward”, said Kroes. Disruptive competition makes all parts of the industry focus better on their customers. “The answer is more consumer choice, not less,” she said. “I believe in competition – it has delivered innovation,” she said. “We should open markets to the maximum extent possible. That applies to the fixed network of dominant operators where we should allow alternative operators to install equipment…with effective unbundled access.”

Kroes said she didn’t believe in “managed competition”. She said one priority was to tackle lack of competition in international mobile roaming.

Kroes said that the ICT sector is one of the few currently generating badly needed growth. However, she added that take up of very high speed broadband services was still limited even in areas where it was widely deployed. Kroes does not believe that limiting competition is the best way forward, however.

Kroes said that upgrading cable networks had already boosted broadband speeds with relatively low investment in infrastructure. Kroes also recognised the impact of cable’s investment on the broadband market and said cable operators should be allowed to reorganise in order to maximise the return on their investment.

She said she wanted to support development in content and services including connected TV to stimulate demand for higher speed broadband and encourage those without broadband to get online.