Relations turn sour in Europe
29 August 2013 | Alex Hawkes
A comparison from the European Commission (EC) between the price of a litre of milk and the cost of domestic phone calls in EU countries has not gone down well with the telecoms community.A comparison from the European Commission (EC) between the price of a litre of milk and the cost of domestic phone calls in EU countries has not gone down well with the telecoms community.
As part of a move to transform the EU’s 28 countries into one single telecoms market, the EC appeared to overstep the mark with a research paper which condemned the disparity of domestic mobile calls across Europe. It pointed out that there is a 774% difference between the cheapest domestic mobile call (Lithuania) and the most expensive (the Netherlands). The price of a litre of milk, on the other hand, only fluctuates between €0.69 and €0.99. Drily responding to the research, the GSMA’s chief government and regulatory affairs officer, Tim Phillips, said: “Dairy producers are not rolling out ‘next-generation’ milk infrastructure that is central to European economic competitiveness, nor are they meeting consumer demands by offering people ‘all you can drink’ contracts.”
The call for a single European telecoms market has been heavily opposed by the industry. Understandably so, as it could potentially lose them billions of euros in revenue. If the plans do go ahead, there could be sharp consequences on a wholesale level, as ensuring access to content for providers from any country has been identified as helping to ensure competition downstream. But the largest challenges would be around spectrum allocation and the vast differences in national infrastructure. Spectrum auctioned on a national basis could fall under the jurisdiction of a new super-regulator, potentially depriving governments of valuable revenue. The rollout of next-generation broadband networks is another area of contention, as initiatives vary hugely between EU member states.
A new draft regulatory framework published this September hopes to shed more light on these obstacles. Let’s hope it avoids any dairy references this time.
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