The Telecom Framework Review
Rules imposed to telecom operators have been fixed in 2002 and revised in 2009. The Commission asks whether they should be changed in a public consultation consisting of 218 questions allocated in 6 chapters.
The first chapter concerns the rationale and objectives of the regulatory framework which in Orange’s views, should be rethought. The current framework aimed at the transition from monopoly to competition. This is over. Today, the framework should support competition, but as a priority it should aim at maximizing the contribution of telecoms to the development of Europe’s economy, mainly through continuous investments in better networks diffusing technical progress.
Chapter 2 is about access obligations imposed to network operators holding Significant Market Power. Orange’s view is that these rules must be deeply reoriented and simplified.
- they should only concern fixed access infrastructures which are the only remaining bottleneck, and apply only where there are less than 3 competitors,
- where they subsist, they should apply symmetrically to all infrastructure owners, telcos, cablecos and local infrastructures operators,
- they must stay investment friendly. The right to get access should not go without the obligation to share the risk of investment in fixed infrastructure.
Chapter 3 is about the allocation of radio frequencies necessary for mobile services. The main question is whether spectrum allocation should be done at European level. Orange considers that rules for spectrum allocation should be European and binding for Member States, but implementation should stay national for the time being. Allocation at European level would be premature considering the state of markets. Spectrum allocation should follow market needs and not serve as an instrument for market design by public authorities.
Chapter 4 concerns regulation of communication services in a context where telecom services and on-line services provided over the internet come together from users’ point of view, while subject to dissimilar regulatory obligations. Orange’s view is that telecom rules should not be extended to on-line services. On the contrary, telecom rules should be focused of the protection of end-users of Internet Access Service (IAS) and on the enforcement of obligations associated to the use of telephone numbers irrespectively of the service provider. All other services provided by telecom operators should be subject to the horizontal regulation which similarly applies to on-line services.
Chapter 5 concerns coverage and universal service issues. Orange supports the political objective of universal coverage of Internet Access Services. Member States can achieve this objective with a mix of pro-investment regulation to encourage a competition driven coverage by market players, public support of demand for high speed connectivity through public procurement or tax benefit and public funding for the extra cost of passive infrastructure in remote areas.
Chapter 6 concerns institutions. Should there be a European regulator? Orange’s view is that to achieve consistent regulation in the EU, the priority is to reduce regulation hence providing less room for fragmentation. Full harmonization should be chosen for the remaining rules and regulations should be preferred to directives. Only once a limited set of strong European rules are enforced, the issue of a European regulator may be considered.