As telecoms markets have changed beyond recognition since the EU telecoms regulatory framework passed into law, the current rules need a major overhaul. That was one of the key messages in the GSMA’s response to the European Commission’s public consultation on the regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services.
The response calls for a thorough assessment of the vision and regulatory objectives being pursued, followed by an analysis of how best to achieve those objectives. The first objective should be to foster EU competitiveness through the development of the Digital Single Market. By boosting private investment in new networks and expanding connectivity, a true Digital Single Market will bring broad economic benefits and needs to be enshrined in European policy. Legislators and regulators need to place a higher priority on incentives for investment and innovation and, in general, telecoms regulation should become less prescriptive and less intrusive.
The consumer protection rules contained in the telecom sector-specific legislation have granted a high level of protection for end-users. But this vertical legislation only applies to traditional operators, while new players offering functionally-substitutable services are required to comply with different and usually lighter rules. The review should move all consumer protection, privacy and security requirements for digital services, including those with a communications element, to a framework based on horizontal laws that apply across sectors. However, the specific characteristics of some services, such as Internet access or those using numbering resources, may still justify the use of specific rules, supplementing horizontal rules. Designed at the time of telecoms market liberalisation, the universal service regime has also become obsolete, as the market is now delivering almost all of the regime’s objectives.
Moreover, improving the framework for spectrum policy management should focus on providing predictability, certainty and consistency across Europe. Key structural changes are needed to create a coherent set of rules for spectrum selection and award procedures, the timing of release and license conditions. In particular, these rules should be transparent, non-discriminatory with a minimum duration of 20 years and a strong presumption of renewal. Specifically, spectrum pricing should be market driven as excessive spectrum fees would dampen the ability of the industry to invest in critical infrastructure and innovate. In addition, the revised institutional framework for spectrum policy should enhance the RSPG, while increasing the dialogue with stakeholders.
Read the GSMA response to the public consultation here.