Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Consultation on tender for the take up of MAN in Greece

The Greek Secretariat of Digital Plan launched a consultation on the terms of the tender regarding the management, exploitation and expansion of the Metropolitan Fibre Network already in place (see the consultation document in greek). The network which was built iin 2004-209 shall be in that way expanded for commercial use as well (for a brief overview of the terms see broadbandprime.com). A preliminary comment of mine is that in the documentation there seems to be a special position foreseen for the Screterary of Digital Plan which however may be in conflict with the NRA independence rules set out in the Framework Directive.

Consultation on amendments of the Greek Telecoms Law

The Ministry of Infrastructure has made public its consultation (see the draft preamble and law in greek) on the new law to infer amendments on the Greek Telecoms Law (Law 3431/2006).

The basic changes relate to the new regime for the measurement and observation on the electromagentic fields. This concurs with the new procedure to be set in place after the awaited Ministerial Decision on the establishment of antennae (see the draft decision in greek).

Moreover there is some intra-Ministerial re-organisation and minor amendments to other parts of the law.

The basic virtue of the new law is the establishment of a new procedure in the licensing regime for antennae.

The consultation will run till 5 January 2011.

The GNSS Agency will have its seat in Prague

It was published today in the OJ, the determination of Prague as the seat of the GNSS Agency, observing on the management of European satellite navigation programmes (see the issue).

Belgian NRA's tender to determine WiMax-LTE interference in the S-Band

BIPT is holding a tender to award the test for the level of interference with S-Band radars by the use of WiMax and LTE (see the tender in french and the annex in english).

Thursday, 23 December 2010

French NRA launches consultation on cost model for MTRs

ARCEP has initiated a consultation on the cost model to be applied in relation to Mobile Call Termination Rates (MTRs). The last market analysis on the mobile call termination market had found Orange, Bouygues and SFR holding SMP and the model adopted followed the LRIC one (see the consultation document, in french).

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Belgian regulators draft analysis on the broadcasting and broadband markets.

BIPT has provided its draft decisions on the analysis of the broadcasting and broadband markets (see here and here respectively, in french).

Art. 7 Comments to Slovak regulator - Cost model for MTRs

TÚSR, adopted a Fully Allocated Historic Cost (FAHC) model for MTRs. In the present consultation proposes to adopt intends to "apply a benchmarking method, whereby the price is based on a simple arithmetic average of average prices for call termination in those EU Member States which apply a cost-based price calculation methodology taking into account efficiency considerations(LRIC) pursuant to the document of the European Regulators Group (now BEREC10)called ‘MTR Benchmark Snapshot’ dated 1 July 2010.". The Commission applauds the NRA for stating its intent to move to a formulation of its own LRIC model within 2011 so that it will be applied in 2012 (see the Decision).

Irish NRA's consultation on minimum price levels in bitstream access

ComReg decided to include an additional consultation to the one on WBA, which will discuss upon the minimum price levels to be set on bitstream access. The issue of the maximum prices on bitstream access will be encompassed in a future consultation. The NRA proposes in general "to set minimum price floors for bitstream by reference to a hypothetical entrant (a Reasonably Efficient Operator) availing of LLU Line Share (a Wholesale Physical Network Infrastructure Access ‘WPNIA’ product)" (see the consultation's document).

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

The European Commission approves the acquisition of BSkyB by News Corp.

The Commission cleared the deal in view of the latter not being likely to impede effective competition (see the press release). The case will now be assessed by the OFT and OFCOM, in the UK which will report to the Secretary of State (the deadline is till 31 December 2010). It is interesting to note that in this case, media pluralism may be a significant factor to assess upon in deciding on the case. Under Art. 21 of the EU Merger Regulation, Member States may stop a concentration from being realised even if it is cleared by the Commission, to protect legitimate interests, such as the plurality of the media.

FCC passes order on net neutrality

FCC's controversial internet order was passed with a 3 to 2 votes (see the press release reflecting on some of the order's key points). Chairman Genachowski (see statement) and Commissioners Copps (see statement) and Clyburn (see statement) voted in favor while Commissioners McDowell (see statement) and Baker (see statement) against. We will wait to have the text of the order in our hands in due time.

Belgium's NRA imposes access obligations to boost triple-play competition

BIPT has decided to impose on the incumbent, Belgacom, and cable operators access obligations so that operators may effectively access the network and the relative tv platform to deliver triple-play products (see BIPT's press release, in french).

Polish incument still discriminating against alternative operators in BSA and WLR markets

UKE, the Polish NRA, mentions in its analysis of Telekomunikacja Polska's quarterly report (Q3) that the Polish incumbent still treats favourably its services as against alternative operators in the BSA and WLR markets (see UKE's press release).

Amendment to the Polish Telecoms Law

Under the amended Polish Telecoms Law, the President of the NRA, of UKE, will be able to approve the detailed conditions that an undertaking proposes in order to comply with the regulatory obligations imposed by UKE (see UKE's press release).

Hellenic Audiovisual Institute's newsletter

The Institute has made public its last newsletter which focuses mostly on DTV transition in the Greek market. It is available in greek (see the newsletter, in greek).

Greek NRA to assign consultants on management of 900/1800 MHz

EETT has declared that it is wiling to assign directly to consultants the task of advising on the lift of barriers, the spectrum fee assessment and the procedure of assignment in the 900 and 1800 MHz frequency (see press release, in greek).

Greek NRA's regulation on analytical billing

EETT has issued its regulatio on analytical billing in all public telephone services provided to consumers (see press release, in greek).

OFCOM considers BT may have engaged in margin squeeze in the wholesale end-to-end calls market

Thus and Gamma have brought a complaint before OFCOM against BT, claiming that the latter engaged in margin squeezing and predatory pricing as regards the wholesale end-to-end calls market in order to drive carrier pre-selection operators outside the market. Today, OFCOM declared in its Statement of Objections that BT may have engaged into such practice (see the press release).

UPDATE (20/06/2013): Case closed (see related page here).

Finish NRA's view on 2011 and 2012 mobile call termination charges

FICORA has made public its views concerning the development of mobile call termination charges in 2011 and 2012. It intends to see a 3,5 eurocents/minute termination rate in 2011 and 2,8 eurocents/minute termination rate in 2012 (see the press release).

French NRA's investigators search four France Telecom's sites after anti-competitive accusations

SFR lodged a complaint against France Telecom and its subsidiary, Orange, for anti-competitive behaviour in Augoust 2010. The French NRA's investigatiors, searched four of the operators' sites in order to find evidence. (see La Tribune, in french).

Monday, 20 December 2010

Draft Greek Competition Law

The upcoming Greek Law on Competition is under consulation till 23 december 2010. The proposed law is empowering the Greek NCA and introduces more severe penal treatment of competition law violators (see the draft law and the preamble, both in greek).

Greek NRA's amended Number Portability Regulation

EETT has amended its number portability regulation (see the document, in greek) extending the deadline for complying with its number portability regulation (in greek) as far as fixed telephone numbers are concerned till 1 April 2011.

OFCOM's review of its Dispute Resolution Guidelines

OFCOM has launched a consultation in view of the intended forthcoming review of its regulatory dispute resolution guidelines (see the consultation document).

OFCOM's review of its Penalty Guidelines

OFCOM is revising its current penalty guidelines and has thus, initiated a consulation on the issue (see the consultation document).

Italian NRA adopts new cost model for mobile call termination and launches review of the market

AGCOM has adopted a new cost model on mobile call termination and will initiate the 3rd round of review of the mobile call termination market (see press release in italian).

Belgium's NRA initiates consultation on transposition of "Better Regulation" and "Consumer Rights" Directives

The BIPT council is initiating a consultation on the transposition of the directives amending the electronic communications framework which should be trasposed by all Member States by May 2011 (the document of the consultation in french). BIPT acts accordingly, after it has been addressed with a question by the Minister of Enterprise and Simplification(see press release).

The Commission ready to include Deutsche Telekom in its investigations against Slovak Telekom

The Commission initiated investigations in April 2009 against Slovak Telekom for suspected "possible refusal to give access to infrastructure and a possible margin squeeze ... with respect to the unbundled local loop" and "possible margin squeeze and other possibly abusive behavior with respect to other wholesale and retail broadband access services" (see press release). The Commission stated that it is considering to include Deutsche Telekom, Slovak Telekom's parent company, in the case as a violating party (see press release).

Court Week

This week we have the upcoming jugments in two cases, not directly linked to the electronic communications sphere:

The first case is RTL and concerns the notion of "effective control both over the selection of the programmes and over their organisation, in Article 1(c) of the Directive of 3 October 1989 on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities", and,

The second case, Bezpečnostní softwarová asociace, relates to the question of whether the graphic user interface of a computer program which is visible through television broadcasting is protected under Directives 91/250/EE on legal protection of computer programs and 2001/29/EC on copyright in information society.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Note: documents of the Art. 7 comments to ARCEP and NITA could not be found

Unfortunately there is an error in DG INFSO's website and could not get access to the Art. 7 Comments sent to ARCEP on fibre regulation in outside high-density areas and the Comments sent to NITA on retail access to the public telephone network at a fixed location for residential and non-residential customers. I made my way to get the documents addressed to NITA on call originationa and termination through Circa but could not find the other two abovementioned. I have sent an e-mail to DG INFSO and if i still face a problem in viewing them i will try to call them up.

Art. 7 Comments to Danish NRA on wholesale fixed call termination market

The Danish NRA proposed the adoption of assymetric regulatory remedies with regards to the wholesale fixed call termination market. NITA proposed in particular to adopt the full set of the regulatory obligations for TDC and for Telenor, Telia and Colt the full set apart from obligation to provide a reference offer and accounting separation. As far as the other 16 alternative network operators (ANOs) are concerned, NITA proposed to impose only the access obligation. The Commission noted that assymetric regulation should be based upon sound justification and that the proposed regulation may let ANOs to charge different prices.

Art. 7 Comments to Danish NRA on wholesale fixed call origination

The Danish NRA came to the conclusion that TDC enjoys SMP in the wholesale fixed call origination market as far as PSTN and ISDN call origination is concerned and thus was imposed with an access obligation, price control based on a LRIC model, cost accounting, non-discrimination, publication of a reference offer, transparency and accounting separation obligation. In relation to VOB (Voice over Broadband), the NRA found that TDC did not enjoy SMP but with a tendency to gain larger shares in the future. The Commission, urged NITA to keep a close eye on the developements in the VOB market.

Ireland's 800/900/1800 MHz award process

ComReg, the Irish NRA has given in public the documents related to its proposal of including the 1800 MHz band to the 800 and 900 MHz proposed joint auction (see the NRA's relevant page).

French NCA finds abusive practices by Google in search engine advertisement

The French NRA delivered its opinion after a question by the Minister of Economy and Finance was referred to it, on Google's dominance and potential abusive practices in the search engine advertisement market. The Authority found that the abovementioned market is an autonomous market where Google enjoys dominance. It went further to say that Google's market practices in the said market may constitute abuse of its dominant position (see the NCA's press release).

Overall, it seems that pressure is been put on Google especially since DG Comp engaged into an investigation of Google's market behaviour on 1 December 2010 (see older post).

Wind falls officially into senior bondholders' arms

From 16 December, Wind, a Greek operator providing mobile, fixed and internet services, fell to its senior bondholders' hands (see Wind's press release in greek). The latter will attempt to restructure the company and bring it back to profits. Winds largest part of debt will be of course restructured (well that's a phrase i am really used to listen to...).

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Aid given to public broadcasters by Netherlands confirmed by the General Court as state aid incompatible with EU law

The General Court confirmed in case T-231,237/06, Netherlands v Commission (available in french and greek), the European Commission's finding that the additional aid granted to Dutch public broadcasters was state aid and moreover that it was not compatible with state aid rules.

Portugal's and Morocco's Regulators sign MOU

The Portuguese NRA's president, and the equivalent one on Morocco's behalf signed an MOU on bilateral cooperation (see ANACOM's press release). This is great news signifying the interest of non EU Member States on telecoms regulatory developments and the acknowledgement of the European NRAs potential to transfer know-how on regulatory treatment.

OFCOM's pension review brings tension with BT

OFCOM has concluded the pensionr review (see the press release) whereby it reached the decision not to take into account BT's pension deficits when calculating the costs that BT incurs. This of course has a great effect on the costs that are introduced in the cost model to determine BT's wholesale prices (see thinkbroadband.com).

More complaints against Sky by Virgin and BT

In older posts we have referred to the Must Offer obligation imposed on Sky and the disputes deriving in general from that very obligation (see here and here). To those disputes we have an additional two. One brought before OFCOM by BT "concerning the requirement on BT to provide Sky with information on BT Visions total number of Pay Subscribers and total number of customers" and which requirement arises "under BSkyB's wholesale supply agreement with BT for premium sports channels (Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2)". And the other one brought before OFCOM by Virgin relating to the issue of "whether, by including in the reference offer a wholesale price for the HD version of Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2 that is calculated on a "per-device" basis, Sky has breached Condition 14A of its Television Licensable Content Service licences".

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Motorola's Network Business unit acquisition by Nokia Siemens Networks cleared

The European Commission cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Motorola Network Business of the US by Nokia Siemens Networks B.V. of The Netherlands (see the press release).

European Commission's new Horizontal Guidelines and New R&D and Specialisation Agreements Regulations

The Commission finalised the text of the new guidelines on horizontal co-operation agreements and that of the Regulations on R&D agreements and Specialisation agreements (see also the press release).

European Radio Spectrum Committee amends Commission Decision on the harmonisation of the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands to include LTE and WiMax

RSC gave a working document on the amendmends of the Commission Decision 2009/766/EC on the harmonisation of the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands to icnlude LTE and WiMax technologies. The modified text provided is not final.

Greek NRA issues corrected RUO

EETT provides in its site (in greek) the RUO imposed on the Greek incumbent, OTE, as corrected.

French regulator completes fibre regulation

ARCEP states in a press release that it is the first European country to have a complete framework for the deployment of fibre infrastructure.The NRA adopted the framework for the deployment of FTTH outside high-denity areas and the framework for the financing of such deployments.

OFCOM hits on SKY again on Must Offer obligation

OFCOM issued its decision in the dispute between Top Up TV (TUTV) and stated that "a term of Sky's agreement for the wholesale supply of Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2 to TUTV, restricting provision of the channels via CI+ CAMs, is in breach of Condition 14A and requires that term to be removed". It shall be noted that SKY was required to offer Sky Sports 1 and 2 to TUTV. Moreover, there is litigation pending concerning the legallity of the must offer obligations imposed on SKY (see older post).

OFCOM excepts BT’s Wavestream National product from the principle of Equivalence of Inputs (EOI)

OFCOM has decided to except BT's fibre product from the application of the principle of Equivalence of Inputs (EOI)as provided under BT's Undertaking. The 2005 BT's Undertakings were somehow relaxed in 2009 (see OFCOM's decision) and in that way the current exception adds up to the gradual relaxation of the Undertakings. OFCOM however gave in the exception without prejudice to the outcome of the review of the "business connectivity market". Openreach must also "develop an upstream input based on the Optical Transport Network (OTN) technology that would allow its wholesale customers to develop downstream solutions which address broadly the same end-user needs as BT’s WN product" and the latter has confirmed that will try to have such a product in place by December 2011.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Sweden - 800Mhz radio spectrum auction

The swedish regulator, PTS, will auction 6 licenses (2X5 Mhz each) in the 800Mhz radio spectrum. For further information see the NRA's decision and invitation to apply.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Invitation for comments in Spanish digital TV state aid case

The Commission calls for comments on the state aid case concerning aid for the deployment of digital terrestrial television (DTT) in Castilla-La Mancha. For a backgound on the case see the Commission's invitation for comments.

Court Week

This week we do not have any developments concerning the electronic communications sector directly;

- Judgment this Thursday in Commission v Netherlands, concerning the application by Netherlands for annulment of a Commission decision declaring state aid to public broadcasters incompatible with state aid rules.

- Hearing in British Sky Broadcasting Group Pace case (set-top boxes, customs classification).

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Commission's Art. 7 Comments to Polish NRA on withdrawal of regulation from mobile call origination market

UKE following older Commission's comments, found that old market 15, the market for wholesale access and call origination on public mobile telephone networks in Poland, did not meet the last two criteria of the three-criteria test. In other words, it found that there was pospect for effective competition taking place and that any problems could be dealt under competition law alone. UKE, thus, decided to withdraw regulation from the relevant market, which shall be mentioned that was not included in the new 2007 Recommendation on relevant markets as opposed to the old 2003 Recommendation. To that end, the Commission had no comments to make.

A brief note of mine concerning that market in general, is that it seems that mobile operators once this market is withdrawn, rest assured and not paying attention to their market practices. It moreover, seems that competition authorities find great difficulties in scrutinising that market. Moreover, the practice of finding two separate markets, the one of call origination and the one of call termination with the later being the only one to be regulated may induce competition authorities to neglect the call termination market when engaging into market assessment of the call origination market. Competition authorities may some times forget that this is a two-sided market. The fact that in ex-ante regulation there are two markets adopted should not necessarily lead to defining two relevant market under competition law.

Agreement between Bouygues Telecom and SFR on optical fibre rollouts in high-density areas.

ARCEP, the French NRA welcomed the agreement (see the press release) reached between Bouygues Telecom and SFR concerning optical fibre rollouts in high-density areas in France. Bouygues Telecom envisages the offer of FTTH servises in the second semester of 2011 (see the press release, in french). ARCEP, lastly, notes that the framework on fibre roll-out will be completed as soon as the guidance on fibre roll-out in less densely populated areas is finalised (guidance on fibre roll-out in densely populated areas is already in place). As far as the relative plan for less densely populated areas is concerned, it shall be mentioned that the Commission gave its Art. 7 comments and considered that ARCEP's plan needs modofications as various parameters were not taken into consideration by the NRA. More information on the Commission's comments will be provided in due time.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Net neutrality - 28th Annual Institute on Telecommunications Policy & Regulation Conference

Commissioner Baker's and Clyburn's speeches as given before the 28th Annual Institute's Conference focusing mainly on the net neutrality issue. Commissioner Baker who opposes the Net Neutrality order gives a more legal-oriented speech.

Retail market for the minimum set of leased lines - Art. 7 Comments to the Swedish NRA

The Commission had no comments to make on the withdrawal of regulation from the swedish retail market for the minimum set of leased lines and the non-withdrawal of a cost-oriented analysis on the wholesale side of this market before PTS will engage into a market analysis exercise.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Decision in Pammer and Hotel Alpenhof - Directed activity through websites

The Court gave its ruling in both these cases which concerned the concept of activity ‘directed to’ the Member State of the consumer’s domicile when this activity is taking part through a website. This decision even though not apparently relevant to the electronic communications and competition law sector, may give some guidance when trying to distinguish between active and passive sales concepts in cases of sales through the internet.

Anyhow, the Court concluded that "in order to determine whether a trader whose activity is presented on its website or on that of an intermediary can be considered to be ‘directing’ its activity to the Member State of the consumer’s domicile, within the meaning of Article 15(1)(c) of Regulation No 44/2001, it should be ascertained whether, before the conclusion of any contract with the consumer, it is apparent from those websites and the trader’s overall activity that the trader was envisaging doing business with consumers domiciled in one or more Member States, including the Member State of that consumer’s domicile, in the sense that it was minded to conclude a contract with them.

The following matters, the list of which is not exhaustive, are capable of constituting evidence from which it may be concluded that the trader’s activity is directed to the Member State of the consumer’s domicile, namely the international nature of the activity, mention of itineraries from other Member States for going to the place where the trader is established, use of a language or a currency other than the language or currency generally used in the Member State in which the trader is established with the possibility of making and confirming the reservation in that other language, mention of telephone numbers with an international code, outlay of expenditure on an internet referencing service in order to facilitate access to the trader’s site or that of its intermediary by consumers domiciled in other Member States, use of a top-level domain name other than that of the Member State in which the trader is established, and mention of an international clientele composed of customers domiciled in various Member States. It is for the national courts to ascertain whether such evidence exists.

On the other hand, the mere accessibility of the trader’s or the intermediary’s website in the Member State in which the consumer is domiciled is insufficient. The same is true of mention of an email address and of other contact details, or of use of a language or a currency which are the language and/or currency generally used in the Member State in which the trader is established" (paras 92-94).

AG's Opinion in Tele 2 Polska - Declaratory decision or closure of proceedings by the NCA when finding no breach

AG Mazak delivered his opinion in Tele 2 Polska which regarded the issue of whether a NCA is entitled to issue a declaratory decision when it has concluded that there is no restriction of competition or abuse of dominance. The AG sustains that "Article 5 of Regulation No 1/2003 should be interpreted as meaning that a competition authority of a Member State cannot take a decision finding that a practice does not restrict competition under Article 102 TFEU in a case in which it has found, after conducting proceedings, that the undertaking did not breach the prohibition of abuse of a dominant position under that Treaty provision". Moreover, "Article 5 of Regulation No 1/2003 is directly applicable and ... the NCA may close its proceedings with a procedural decision finding that there are no grounds for action on its part".

It should be noted that this is the second case this week which regards Regulation 1/2003 and its direct applicability. The second one is the ruling in VEBIC which is mentioned in a previous post.

Judgment in VEBIC - NCAs' right to appear before review courts

CJEU gave its ruling in the VEBIC case.

The Belgian referring Court set out four questions, namely:
1. Must the provisions [of Articles 2, 15(3) and 35(1) of the Regulation] be interpreted to mean that national competition authorities derive directly from [those provisions] an entitlement to submit written observations on arguments raised in the context of appeal proceedings brought against a decision made by them and that they can themselves present arguments in fact and in law, with the result that this entitlement cannot be excluded by a Member State?
2. Must the same provisions be interpreted to mean that, for the effective application of the competition rules with a view to protecting the general interest, the public enforcement bodies which are designated as the competition authorities are not only entitled but also have a duty to participate in the appeal proceedings against their decisions by stating their position in relation to the arguments raised in fact and in law?
3. If questions 1 and 2 are answered in the affirmative, must those provisions then be interpreted to mean that, in the absence of national provisions concerning the participation by the competition authority in the proceedings before the review body and where various authorities are designated, it is the authority which is competent to take the decisions set out in Article 5 of the Regulation which shall participate in the appeal proceedings against its decision?
4. Are the answers to the above questions different if the competition authority acts, in accordance with national law, as a court of law and/or if the final decision is taken on completion of an investigation by a body belonging to that court and charged with drawing up the objections and a draft decision?’

The Court came to the conclusion that "that Article 35 of the Regulation must be interpreted as precluding national rules which do not allow a national competition authority to participate, as a defendant or respondent, in judicial proceedings brought against a decision that the authority itself has taken. It is for the national competition authorities to gauge the extent to which their intervention is necessary and useful having regard to the effective application of EU competition law. However, if the national competition authority consistently fails to enter an appearance in such judicial proceedings, the effectiveness of Articles 101 TFEU and 102 TFEU is jeopardised. In the absence of EU rules, the Member States remain competent, in accordance with the principle of procedural autonomy, to designate the body or bodies of the national competition authority which may participate, as a defendant or respondent, in proceedings brought before a national court against a decision that the authority itself has taken, while at the same time ensuring that fundamental rights are observed and that EU competition law is fully effective".

For thoughts on this case see also chillin' competition.

Commission's consultation on roaming

Further to the previous post on the issue, Commissioner Kroes gave a speech and mentioned her worry on the fact that roaming prices are set on the price cap provided in the Roaming regulation and not below that benchmark even though there was a reduction of the relevant costs. This reduction of costs, in a competitive market, would have led to a decrease of prices but telecom operators nonethless maintain the regulated cap of the regulation.

A brief personal comment on the issue, is that telecom operators are doing the obvious. The regulation of prices is known that may induce firms to stick to those prices even though they may have the margin to lower them. In other words, the downside of regulating a price, is that it may facilitate collusion which is by the way legal. What Commissioner Kroes could do, is to collaborate with DG Comp in an attempt to find a solution based on competition law. This, attempt could require further coordination with the national competition authorities. The difficulty in proving an article 101 breach should lead to an attempt to find an article 102 abuse. This will in turn require a solid market definition of the market. The main question in that perspective is whether the Commission is up to the challenge and does indeed have the means to proceed to such an exercise.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Commission's consultation on roaming

Commission launched a consultation on the review of EU mobile phone roaming rules (see the press release). Just before this announcement, BEREC (the Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications) gave to the public its report on roaming.

EU Regulations regarding the spatial sector

Regulation 1088/2010 and 1089/2010 regarding download services, transformation services and interoperability of spatial data sets and services, were published in the Official Journal.

Commission approves acquisition of ADC Telecommunications by Tyco Electronics

The Commission in its press release, announce it approved the acquisition.

Commission's consultation on a single Europe-wide phone number for EU businesses

The Commission instigated yesterday a consultation whereby the issues of "market fragmentation, possible ways to harmonise telephone numbers, market demands for the future and management of the numbers" will be explored. In essence, a solution is sought to the substantial telecom costs big EU businesses incur, just because they cannot obtain a pan-European number.

European Telecoms Council meeting

The Telecoms Council has issued a press release along with the Commission concerning the meeting held on 3 December 2010. The Ministers were infromed by the Commission and proceeded to discussion on the Radio Spectrum Policy Programme and the digital dividend plan amongst others, which will enable Europe to reach the objectives envisaged in the Commission's European Broadband Strategy.

Acquisition of McAfee by Intel

The Commission received a prior notification of concentration which regards the acquisition of McAfee Inc. by Intel Corporation.

Monday, 6 December 2010

OFCOM's review of the wholesale broadband access markets

OFCOM has issued its final review of the WBA market taking into consideration the late development as Talk Talk unbundled 700 exchenges. OFCOM in particular retained the adoption of four geographic markets; the Hull area with KCOM the SMP operator, market 1 where one operator exists, market 2 where two operators exist or where three operators exist with BT holding a market share above 50% and market 3 where more than four operators exist or where three operators exist with BT having a market share of less than 50%. For market 1 it imposed additionally charge control and for market 2 it retained the old remedies. Market 3 will be deregulated. OFCOM also is of the view that for the time being NGA shall not be considered as a separate market. For more information see OFCOM's document on the review and my comments on the Commission Art. 7 comments in a previous post.

Greek State to deprive Public Broadcaster from advertising revenue

According to media sources (see naftemporiki, in greek), the Greek States is planning to cease the funding of the Public Broadcaster (ERT) by advertising revenue. In the future, ERT will be funded only via the adminstrative fee.

French NRA authorises for LTE testing frequencies

ARCEP has issued testing authorisations in the 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz band frequencies which are to be used for LTE in the future (see ARCEP's press release).

Court Week

This week we have the upcoming judgments and opinions in several interesting cases directly or indirectly related to the electronic communications regulation sector, namely;

- Opinion in Tele 2 Polska, concerning broadly the competence of the NCA to rule on Art. 101 and 102 TFEU cases (Regulation 1/2003).

- Judgement in VEBIC, concerning the participation of a NCA in appeal proceedings (Regulation 1/2003). See also the AG's Opinion (in french) who thinks that a requirement for participation of a NCA in appeal proceedings does exist and derives from the required effective application of Articles 101 and 102 TFEU.

- Judgments in Pammer and Hotel Apenholf, concerning the interpretation of activity being ‘directed' within the terms of Article 15(1)(c) of Regulation 44/2001 (‘the Brussels I Regulation’) in cases where a consumer has concluded a contract with a travel operator or a hotel via the internet.

- Hearing in The Number and Conduit Enterprises, concerning telephone directory enquiry services.

- Lastly for those interested in gas & electricity markets regulation, this week we will have the decision in Fluxys, concerning the compatibility of tansit tariffs as against the european legal framework. The AG proposed (in french) to declare such differential treatment between transit and transmission tariffs as against the legal framework if there was no justification to explain the price difference.
It should be reminded at this point the relativity of certain elements of the regulation of this area with the regulation of the telecoms sector. The third package for the gas & electricity sector is to be trasposed by March 2011. However the degree of liberalisation and the status of competition lag way behind the ones observed in the telecoms sphere.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Publicly available telephone services provided at a fixed location - Art 7 Comments to Slovakia

The Commission had no comments to make on the finding by the Slovakian NRA that the market of publicly available local and/or national telephone services provided at a fixed location for residential customers and non-residential customers and that of the publicly available international telephone services provided at a fixed location for residential customers and non-residential do not need to be regulated after failing the three-criteria test. It is reminded that these markets were withdrawn from the list of the 2007 Recommendation.

Art 7 Comments to the Czech Regulatory Authority - wholesale terminating segments of leased lines

The Commission in its comments, accepts the distinct markets identified by CTU, the NRA, and in particular that of wholesale terminating segments of leased lines providing bandwidths up to and including 2 Mbit/s and that of circuits providing bandwidths above 2 Mbit/s. It accepts also the finding that the first market should not be regulated but disagrees with the withdrawal of the price control obligation imposed on the SMP operator as regards the second market.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Kroes to press the Telecoms Council on the digital dividend issue

Kroes, states it intends to press the Telecoms Council in the tomorrow's meeting to opt in favour of wireless broadband services (see the press release).

FCC to adopt a Net Neutrality Order by December 21st

Chairman Genachowski included a Net Neutrality Order in the agenda for the meeting on December 21st (see his remarks). Sources (see wired) identify that the compromise reached, enables in reality telecom operators to block software or content of their choice run thorough their fast-lane networks as opposed to a prohibition in other types of their networks (i.e. slower networks).There are also voices within the FCC that oppose the inclusion of the Order in the agenda (see remarks of Commissioners McDowell and Baker). It should also be reminded that in the Comcast Decision earlier this year, the US court ruled that the FCC's net neutrality rules could not be enforceable on telecom providers. The biggest porblem for the FCC is that in the absence of legislative action, it cannot recharacterise internet service as a telecommunications service so that the Telecoms Act 96 could encompass internet activities and thus permit the auhtority to regulate the internet.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

EETT's interim measures against OTE - Greece

EETT imposed interim measures against the Greek incumbent for launching two products not approved a priori by the NRA. EETT calls OTE to stop the commercial distribution of these products and to deliver its view on these measures. There was set also, a fine of 100.000 € per day of non compliance (see EETT's press release, in greek).

Commission intends to take full charge of regulatory remedies, Kroes warns

In her yesterday's speech at Crown Plaza in Brussels, Mrs Kroes noted that under the revised telecoms framework to be transposed by Member States by May 2011, the Commission will enjoy competence in approving regulatory remedies imposed by NRAs and furthermore "correcting" them with the help of BEREC. Under the current framework, the Commission could only make Art. 7 comments. In essence, Kroes denotes that the Commission is ready to step in and contribute to the alignment of regulatory remedies so that there is regulatory consistency across EU Member States.
Further comments on this issue will be made in due course.

European Commission opens antitrust investigation against Google

According to the Commission's press release,
"The Commission will investigate whether Google has abused a dominant market position in online search by allegedly lowering the ranking of unpaid search results of competing services which are specialised in providing users with specific online content such as price comparisons (so-called vertical search services) and by according preferential placement to the results of its own vertical search services in order to shut out competing services. The Commission will also look into allegations that Google lowered the 'Quality Score' for sponsored links of competing vertical search services. The Quality Score is one of the factors that determine the price paid to Google by advertisers.
The Commission's probe will additionally focus on allegations that Google imposes exclusivity obligations on advertising partners, preventing them from placing certain types of competing ads on their web sites, as well as on computer and software vendors, with the aim of shutting out competing search tools. Finally, it will investigate suspected restrictions on the portability of online advertising campaign data to competing online advertising platforms".

Romanian state is selling its stake in Romtelecom

The Romanian state which holds 46% of Romtelecom, notified Romtelecom's major shareholder, OTE, the Greek incumbent, that seeks to sell its stake and preferably to OTE. However, OTE under Deutsche Telecom's guidance (the latter is the controlling shareholder of OTE) requested time to evaluate the situation (see OTE's press release).