Euro telcos urge less regulation

The bosses of Europe's major telecom companies urged regulators to adopt a lighter touch on big industry mergers and allow them to charge major websites like Google to prioritize their traffic on networks. These and other recommendations were put forward by a group of industry executives at a conference in Brussels held by the European Commission to look at why investment in high speed broadband was lagging across much of the continent.

Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for the digital agenda, asked the industry in March to come up with proposals to address growing concerns among governments that telecom operators were not building out fiber optic networks quickly enough, putting the region's long-term economic competitiveness at risk. After several months of talks, the executives, led by Vivendi Chief Executive Jean-Bernard Levy, Alcatel-Lucent CEO Ben Verwaayen, and Deutsche Telekom boss Rene Obermann, ended up delivering eleven policy prescriptions. The executives asked for uniform European-level rules to reduce regulatory uncertainty and for governments not to stand in the way of mergers and network-sharing initiatives that can help telecom operators achieve scale to better compete. The industry also urged European regulators to grant them more leeway to sign corporate agreements on so-called "traffic management," by which operators favour some data flowing over their networks above others. But this approach remains controversial with consumer advocates and some technology experts, who say such practices are unfair and will lead to a two-speed Internet.


Euro telcos urge less regulation