EU telcos call for less regulation

ETNO blames excessive regulation for the poorly performing industry

European telcos on Wednesday called for European Union authorities to reduce regulation on the industry.

According to ETNO, the European Telecommunications Network Operators Association, "excessively intrusive regulation" is stifling innovation and the roll out of fiber networks in Europe. The organization wants operators to have more flexibility in setting the price of access to fiber.

"Europe's telecoms operators have to move from voice to data-driven business models in order to monetize rapidly increasing data traffic and reverse the declining revenue trend," said ETNO Director Daniel Pataki in a speech to the ETNO-Total Telecom Regulatory Summit in Brussels on Wednesday.

To leverage demand for data services, telcos need to invest in fiber networks. But some analysts believe that caps on prices for access to copper networks discourage investment in fiber. Access to older copper networks should be allowed to rise where costs increase, according to ETNO.

The group blames capped prices for the overall fall in revenue of the E.U. telecoms sector by 1.4 percent in 2010 and 2 percent in 2011. Revenue is forecast to continue falling by 1.8 percent a year until 2015 unless operators change their business models to generate new revenue streams.

However, the stated aim of the European Commission's digital agenda is to encourage investment in next generation networks. It believes that by setting limits on how much telcos can charge for allowing access to legacy copper networks, companies will be forced to invest in fiber.

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