US Regulators support view that deregulation spurs NGN investment and raise doubts about functional separation

Date

26 Mar 2008

Sections

InfoSociety

Press release

Washington DC – The US deregulatory regime has been successful in encouraging investment in next generation networks, say FCC (Federal Communications Commission) senior officials during a meeting on 19 March with a delegation of EU leading telecoms operators chaired by Michael Bartholomew, ETNO Director.

Concluding its series of meetings with US officials and industry representatives this week, the ETNO delegation had wide ranging discussions on current US and EU developments with Kevin Martin, FCC Chairman and FCC Commissioner Deborah Tate.

“Achieving a 30% broadband penetration across the EU is an ambitious goal that will require considerable efforts to bridge digital divide and risky investment to deploy new high speed access networks”, says Michael Bartholomew, ETNO Director, at the end of an ETNO fact finding mission to the US.

Referring to the current debate on the review of the EU regulatory framework, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin highlighted the US policy of deregulating broadband markets in order to spur investment in next generation networks. FCC Commissioner, Deborah Tate added that “Deregulation results in massive investment. Massive regulation results in low investment.” She questioned several regulatory proposals such as functional separation and wondered why the European Commission was proposing more intrusive regulatory measures given that broadband deployment and competition in the EU market place is vibrant.

The FCC also supported the concept of geographical segmentation as an appropriate approach to enable deregulation. This approach that ETNO is putting forward ensures that within a national market, regulators take into account different competitive realities. In those areas where several competing networks already co-exist, network access should be the result of commercial negotiations.

Coinciding with the closure of a spectrum auction in the US, discussions also focused on spectrum management and digital dividend. ETNO reiterated its support for the European Commission proposals for the digital dividend, which represents a unique opportunity to bridge the digital divide between rural and urban areas of Europe and boost broadband take up. Kevin Martin supported the
EU approach to the digital dividend and said that the US recent experience could serve as an example.

During its visit to the US, the ETNO delegation also met with the acting Director of the National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA), the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, as well as the EU Delegation. Meetings with industry representatives included Walt Disney, AT&T, Verizon and the US Telecom Association. During the meeting with the latter, the two trade associations agreed to foster closer cooperation on regulatory issues.

The ETNO delegation also met with Ambassador David Gross, US Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy. Wide ranging discussions covered internet governance issues and ICANN reform.

For more information, please consult www.etno.be or contact Thierry Dieu, ETNO Communications Manager
(dieu@etno.be or 32 2 227 10 82)

* ETNO’s 41 member companies from 34 European countries represent a significant part of total ICT activity
in Europe. They account for an aggregate annual turnover of more than 250 billion Euros and employ over one
million people across Europe. ETNO companies are the main drivers of broadband and are committed to its
continual growth in Europe.

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