Operators plead with Europe to deregulate

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The bosses of several of the biggest European operators have written to the EC to objects to proposed amendments to the Electronic Communications Code and ePrivacy Regulation.

In the letter, which was leaked to the FT, the CEOs of DT, BT, Orange, Telecom Italia and Telefónica assert that amendments to those pieces of legislation, which reverse moves to deregulate included in the original drafts, will harm investment and inhibit the rollout of FTTH and 5G.

It seems the amendments were made in response to objections from member states that fear the deregulation will result in reduced competition, presumably due to the telecoms M&A environment being made more benign.

“The initial strategic focus on investment and innovation appears lost and current developments risk hampering the ability of companies to deliver for European citizens and businesses,” says the letter. “We believe that growth, employment, investment and contribution to taxation are at stake.”

“Other regions of the world are out-investing Europe 2 to 1 in digital networks. This should be a reason for alarm and action, especially in the context of global competition and fast-paced technological change.”

The letter was apparently delivered by the European Telecom Network Operators’ Association and was also signed by a bunch of other European operators. The M&A vs investment dichotomy is a long-standing one in European telecoms, with the O2/Three merger blocked on those grounds. Europe’s response to this letter may indicate which way it’s currently leaning on this matter.

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