European Commission Opens Telecoms, Broadband Consultations

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The EC said it is looking for comment on how to shape the future of telecoms and broadband regulation

The European Commission has launched two public consultations ahead of broad reforms planned for the regulation of Europe’s telecommunications and Internet networking infrastructure, and is seeking comment from a wide range of individual users and organisations.

One of the consultations focuses on users’ broadband needs over the next five years and beyond, while the other will look into how the current telecoms framework, based on 2009’s Telecoms Package, can be modernised.

Wide-ranging review

The EC said it wants to hear from users and private- and public-sector bodies from sectors ranging from telecoms and ICT to agriculture, education and transport, but said it is particularly keen to have the views of those who develop applications and services that depend upon connectivity.

The expansion of Internet-connected devices, including smartphones and tablets, but also hardware such as smart meters, has reshaped the Internet landscape in recent years, the EC said.

“We are more and more connected, at every moment, everywhere,” said Andrus Ansip, vice-president for the Digital Single Market, in a statement. “This means that access to high-speed and high-quality Internet has become essential to every European: people, companies, organisations or public bodies.”

The telecoms review is to address issues including network access regulation, spectrum management, communications services, universal services and telecoms governance, while the broadband review is seeking insight into what users will need to support the services and connected applications of the future, with a focus on elements such as security, speed and quality of service.

Digital Single Market

Following the consultation, which closes on 7 December, the Commission said it plans to present its proposal on reforms to telecoms and broadband regulation, part of the Digital Single Market Strategy it presented in May.

The EC said the aim of the strategy is to create conditions in which digital products, networks and services can flourish, and added that the strategy’s success hinges on advanced communications networks.

“More than ever, Europe needs top-class connectivity,” stated Günther H. Oettinger, commissioner for the digital economy and society.

The Commission said net neutrality rules agreed earlier this year and plans to end mobile roaming charges by June 2017 were a significant step toward realising the goals of the digital strategy.

The EC said it is aiming to implement the regulatory overhaul next year.

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