Telecom bosses call for less regulation to boost broadband

The heads of major European telcos and vendors have said that they need greater leeway from regulators to make the roll-out of high speed broadband networks economically viable. Ben Verwaayen, chief executive of Alcatel-Lucent, Deutsche Telekom boss Rene Obermann and head of Vivendi Jean-Bernard Levy, told the European Commission that regulators should reduce rules that block industry mergers and network sharing initiatives that would help the operators build scale and lower costs.

The telecom bosses were speaking at a conference in Brussels arranged by Nellie Kroes, the European Commissioner for the digital agenda, over concerns from governments that targets would not be met to roll out fast fibre-optic broadband , thus reducing European competiveness.

France Telecom, Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom have all complained that they will have to share networks with rivals having footed the bill to pay for them.

The companies are looking for approval to employ traffic management and charge for higher priority traffic to flow over their networks. Consumer groups oppose this, believing that maintaining ‘net neutrality’ is fundamental to the fairness of the internet.

France Telecom chief executive Stephane Richard said that ways of making larger websites contribute to networks costs should be explored as it was unfair that telecoms companies shouldered the financial cost of building network while tech giants such as Google and Apple skim profits from services running over the networks.

“Europe needs healthy companies willing and capable to invest,” the executives wrote in a draft version of proposals from the conference. “Players who add value should be stimulated by the right incentives.”

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