The big five EU telecom operators in dire straights

Press conference by Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the EC, on the Net Neutrality. (EC Audiovisual Service)

Press conference by Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the EC, on the Net Neutrality. (EC Audiovisual Service)

British Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom, Telecom Italia and Telefónica constitute the exclusive club of major telecom operators in the European Union. The very oligopolistic character of the market has prompted the European Commission some years ago to forcefully introduce ground breaking changes in the EU telecom market.

Towards the end of 2009 the Commission managed to secure political agreement on a package of broad reforms to bring about a competitive single telecoms market. The twelve changes brought about with this package made the life of consumers easier. They were the following:

1. A right of European consumers to change, in 1 working day, fixed or mobile operator while keeping their old phone number.

2. Better consumer information.

3. Protecting citizens’ rights relating to internet access by a new internet freedom provision.

4. New guarantees for an open and more “neutral” net.

5. Consumer protection against personal data breaches and spam.

6. Better access to emergency services, 112.

7. National telecoms regulators will gain greater independence

8. A new European Telecoms Authority that will help ensure fair competition and more consistency of regulation on the telecoms markets.

9. A new Commission say on the competition remedies for the telecoms markets.

10. Functional separation as a means to overcome competition problems.

11. Accelerating broadband access for all Europeans.

12. Encouraging competition and investment in next generation access networks.

Still in 2011 the Commission was about to launch infringement proceedings against sixteen Member State that had failed until then to comply with EU telecoms law and regulations. The main item in question was consumer protection. National telecom companies had been for years operating as absolute state monopolies and had developed a very rigid culture vis-a-vis consumers. It took the Commission many years of legal fights to enforce the above rules.

The last attainment of the Commission was a generous reduction of mobile roaming rates (calls between member states), in two instalments that made the intra-national mobile calls accessible to the wider public within the European Union.

In short all over the past ten years the Commission worked very bravely against a long tradition of monopolistic culture in almost all member states.
ICT technology explosion

For some time now however the ICT technological explosion all across the digital spectrum has opened new horizons in the wired or wireless telecom market. Entire brand new sectors of economic activities are continuously born using the telecommunication infrastructures. The classical telecom operators are watching almost helplessly the revolution that takes place through their networks but is not controlled by them.

Of course all the European heavyweights like British Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom, Telecom Italia and Telefónica are very active in all those new markets, from novel mobile advertisements applications to new Internet services like cinema film distribution and the like.

But still a lot of new applications escape them or even worse new telephone call providers with breakthrough technologies can offer cut cost services, which undercut the wire network owners’ profits. Today city calls are offered for free almost all over the European Union.
In reality the entire telecom and Internet services market is in crossroads. The major network operators, usually the heirs of the old telecom national monopolies see the earth moving under their feet but they cannot demand a return to the monopolistic past. National telecom authorities in most of the EU member states empowered with new mandates to oversee fair competition rules are watchful and punish them whenever they try to exploit their privileged position as owners of the wires.

It seems however that while the member states telecom authorities are adamant in this game, the giant telecom firms of the central EU member states like the above mentioned five companies find more willing listeners for their “problems” in Brussels. And seemingly they have started discussing these problems with their major old enemy the DG Competition and probably with the participation of the competent Commissioner Joaquín Almunia.

There are reports on the European press of high level meetings between the big ones. That kind of reports alone could have been used against them as attempts to form a trust. If the information that Brussels dignitaries are also present in those discussions is true, then there is obviously something very big going on but it is difficult to understand what may be the outcome. The slightest attempt by the big five to come to some kind of agreement can be considered as an attempt to form a mighty monopoly.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Chart of the day: These are the cities where the World Cup threatens productivity the most

Impressions of China

Commission goes less than mid-way on expensive euro

EU elections 2019: Trump’s share in the support of populism

Irish Presidency: Not a euro more for EU budgets

Addressing the consequences of digitalisation in the Russia & CIS region

The Brexit factor in the US-China trade war and other conflicts

EU members commit to build an integrated gas market and finally cut dependency on Russia

Hostages to a rampant banking system

Meet Alice, the battery-powered plane that could herald the age of electric air travel

European elections: A chance to repel both nationalism and no-deal Brexit

Imported and EU fisheries products should be treated equally

Glaringly false reassurances about the repercussions of the EU-US free trade agreement

Will the outcome of the UK referendum “calm” the financial markets?

Scientists in Sweden are studying the climate-cooling effects of spruce forests

In Sweden you can roam anywhere you like, without the landowner’s permission

Dieselgate: Parliament calls for mandatory retrofits of polluting cars

The punishment gap: how workplace mistakes hurt women and minorities most

OECD Donor countries need to reform development finance to meet 2030 pledge

Presentation of Juncker’s Investment Plan: Can 315 billion euros save the EU?

5 steps that could end the plastic pollution crisis – and save our ocean

The refugee crisis seen through the eyes of a young doctor from Turkey

“Will TTIP solve the massive EU-US unemployment? Absolutely not!” A revealing Sting Exclusive with Tim Bennett from the Transatlantic Business Council

This is why people live, work and stay in a growing city

4 bold new ways New York is going clean and green

Statelessness for terrorists’ families, never an acceptable option, urges UN rights chief

‘Historic moment’ for people on the move, as UN agrees first-ever Global Compact on migration

DR Congo: days ahead ‘critical’ to ‘historic election process’ Security Council hears

Ireland’s planning to make its Emerald Isle even greener

Greece: The new government of Alexis Tsipras shows its colors

The influence of the multilateral agreement on migrant health

Here are 10 of Nelson Mandela’s most inspirational quotes

Somalis ‘will not be deterred’ by Friday’s terror attacks – UN chief

Accountability for atrocities in Myanmar ‘cannot be expected’ within its borders – UN investigator

To rebuild trust in the media, we must empower its consumers

The big challenge of leadership and entrepreneurship in Europe

Europe led by Germany seems vulnerable to Trump’s threats

GSMA Announces First Keynote Speakers for 2019 “MWC Los Angeles, in Partnership with CTIA”

Tragedy of Mediterranean deaths continues, as seven drown, 57 rescued: UN migration agency

Yemen: UN Envoy ‘guilty’ of optimistic hope that war is ‘nearing the end’

EU-Ukraine Summit: moving forward together in solidarity

Second Ebola death confirmed in Uganda as UN health agency mulls global emergency call

Under-fives’ daily screen time should be kept to 60 minutes only, warns WHO

Back to school: Schoolchildren to receive milk, fruits and vegetables at school thanks to EU programme

A day in the life of a Rohingya refugee

FROM THE FIELD: Weaving profits in Azerbaijan

Migrant caravan: UN agency helping ‘exhausted’ people home

OECD household income up 0.7% in first quarter of 2018, outpacing GDP growth

European Union presents its progress towards sustainable development

Tax Inspectors Without Borders making significant progress toward strengthening developing countries’ ability to effectively tax multinational enterprises

Korea must enhance detection and reinforce sanctions to boost foreign bribery enforcement

Refugee crisis update: Commission still in panic while Turkey is to be added in the equation

Does the Commission subsidise a forced labour scheme in Britain?

COP21 Breaking News_09 December: List of Recent Climate Funding Announcements

Why the ECB suddenly decided to flood banks with money?

Europe bewildered by radicalisation and terrorism

Climate change is speeding up. Our response needs to be even faster

Syria still suffering ‘staggering levels’ of humanitarian need, Security Council hears

How India is solving its cooling challenge

World’s human rights watchdog spotlights Afghanistan, Yemen and 12 others: Here’s the scoop

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s