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Broadband regulation in Europe moving in right direction

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peterpitschBy Peter Pitsch, associate general counsel and executive director of communications policy for Intel

State of the art telecom networks will be the lifeblood of Europe’s digital markets and, increasingly so, many other sectors of the larger economy. The EU recognized the importance of ultrafast broadband when it set the 2020 target of 50% of homes subscribing to at least 100 Mbps Internet access. However, according to the latest figures of the EU scoreboard, only 54% of homes have access to at least 30 Mbps. (In contrast, “more than 80 percent of American households live in areas that offer access to broadband networks capable of delivering data with speeds in excess of 100 Megabits per second,” according Lowell McAdam, CEO of Verizon, in the New York Times, June 20, 2013.)

Within this context the European Commission is preparing a series of measures to promote a European Single Telecoms Market, stimulating the investment in ultrafast networks. One such measure is the upcoming Recommendation on consistent non-discrimination obligations and costing methodologies, which aims to enhance broadband investment and promote competition by stabilizing incumbent telephone companies’ last mile copper access prices and price deregulating their last mile NGA networks as long as they meet non-discrimination obligations in their provisioning of service to alternative operators.

Intel strongly supports public policies that make broadband widespread, high quality, and affordable.  Last mile broadband investment is risky, expensive, and discretionary, and we recognize that the Commission has set out ambitious targets for broadband in the Digital Agenda that, if met, would greatly benefit EU citizens.  In light of all this we welcome the upcoming EC Recommendation to create a framework for equitable, non-discriminatory, and competitive access to telecom facilities. If properly implemented, it would encourage much more last mile investment, at the same time preserving the possibility for robust competition.