18 September 2014
EU telecoms regulators have reportedly announced plans to abandon fixed-line phone call price caps in the region in a bid to help European operators boost revenue.
The plan is thought to be
part of the regulator’s larger strategy of opening
up the market and increasing competition, and is expected to be
implemented next month, subject to approval by EU
The proposal, seen by Reuters, states that
operators like Orange in France and Telefónica in Spain
would be authorised to set their own fixed-line call prices for
both consumers and other operators using their networks.
According to ETNO – a telecoms lobbying group with
members including Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telecom Italia and
KPN – fixed-line phone revenue dropped €5 billion
to €59 billion in 2012, and the group believes the new EU
proposal will help to boost investment in high-speed broadband
infrastructure and enable operators to catch up with their
peers in the US and Asia.
"Competition from alternative platforms and OTT service
competition are today well-established and this recommendation
is the right instrument to adapt regulation to the new market
reality," a statement from ETNO read.
National regulators will still have the option of
regulating prices for fixed-line calls as they see fit, as has
been the case in Germany which said in July that it will
continue to cap prices.
However, market watchers expect smaller operators, which have
to lease capacity from incumbents to allow their customers to
make calls, will be hurt by the move.
The ECTA, a telecoms group representing smaller players like
TalkTalk, Wind and E-Plus, said that "such premature
deregulation will harm competition and thus ultimately the
users, be they consumers or businesses".
"In the vast majority of member states, end-users will have
very little choice – often only one, the incumbent
– if fixed voice regulation is removed," according to
a statement from the ECTA.