Throughout the day we will we bringing you reaction to the European Commission’s reform package for the telecoms market, which was unveiled late on Wednesday afternoon.

You can read the outline of the reforms here, which focused on six areas including a single authorization for operators to work across the EU, an end to roaming, spectrum coordination and making net neutrality law.

1730: Telekom Austria Group "still opposed" to European Commission's plans

Spokesperson Peter Schiefer told European Communications: "These plans will take money away from telecommunications, which would be urgently needed for broadband investments.

"The digital agenda of the European Commission has very ambitious plans on growth of broadband access within Europe. The  Telekom Austria Group does not understand why the commission is counteracting its own plans.

"Secondly this is an issue of security of investment. There was a clear road map on roaming, which was the basis for our investments. These investments would be sunk costs if this Commission proposal is set into action.”

1530 Huawei reaffirms European ambitions

China-based vendor Huawei didn't want to miss out on the action re the Connected Continent reform. It released a statement reaffirming its commitment to helping to address the EU’s strategic goals for ICT and to growing its investment in its European research and development operations.

Huawei currently has 13 R&D sites across Europe and employs more than 800 R&D specialists.

“Huawei is committed to reinvesting a minimum of 10 percent of revenue in research and development every year,” said Renato Lombardi, vice president of Huawei’s European Research Centre. "Our investment in R&D in Europe also continues to grow. It doubled between 2010 and 2013 and we expect it will double again over the next five years.”

1500 Swisscom has "no interest" in keeping roaming charges artificially high

Switzerland is not in the EU so is not automatically affected by the Connected Continent reform; however the incumbent operator is naturally keeping an eye on proceedings in Brussels.

A spokesperson told European Communications that "a concrete plan to implement [the end of roaming] is not yet in sight". Since 2006, Swisscom's data roaming charges have fallen by over 90 percent, he added, and prices will continue to fall "because we renegotiate our purchase terms on an ongoing basis".

Concluded the spokesperson: "Swisscom has no interest in keeping roaming charges artificially high."

1400 Colt says single authorisation must not undermine competition

Promoting competition is important and the single passport is a positive but not fundamental change, says Tanja Salem, Head of Regulatory Affairs at altnet Colt.

“While the EC proposes simplifying regulation to enable operators to offer services across Europe, it should be cautious not to undermine competition through one-size fits all measures.

"We welcome regulation in this space in order to better facilitate the seamless provision of services across Europe if it enhances the ability of alternative operators to compete effectively, but this could be potentially harmful, if imposed on well-functioning markets."

1330 Read our Q&A with Telekom Austria's regulatory chief

Michael Jungwirth, Director of Regulatory & European Affairs at Telekom Austria, discussed the single telecoms market and other regulatory challenges in our weekly Q&A feature this week. You can see it here:

1300: Informa senior analyst says proposed spectrum changes come at a bad time

The call for the harmonisation of spectrum allocation may be difficult in the short term, Francesco Radicati believes, given that most EU markets have already held their LTE spectrum auctions.

However, he acknowledged that it is a good move by the EC to put the industry on notice for the sale of spectrum in the future, when new technologies enter the market.

1245: NSN to "carefully analyse" the "complex" proposals

Nokia Solutions and Networks says it fully supports the target to increase investment in telecommunication infrastructure in Europe, which is "urgently needed".

Their spokesperson added: "The Commission proposal is very complex… we will carefully analyse it and provide our input in the course of the legislative procedure."

1220: Analysys Mason's James Allen and Tim Harrabin say proposed regulation may be good politics, but it is not good economics.

According to the analysts all the proposals with the exception of changes to spectrum allocation are materially negative for mobile operator margins. "The combined effect is not positive for investment in networks, despite the Commission's rhetoric," they said.

Forcing the price of national and international calls to be the same means that operator revenues will decline even if, as is almost inevitable, the operators put up the price of national calls slightly to compensate for the loss in margins, according to Allen and Harrabin. The same applies to roaming they believe.

With regards to changes to wholesale practices, "changes and difficulties" will introduce uncertainty into the market and mean it is unlikely to encourage investment from altnets.

On single authorisation, a host of operational issues – Allen and Harrabin name check customer language support, brand awareness, USO funding, numbering, and lawful intercept – are likely to keep service provision national in scope even if the cross-border supply was technically feasible.

The regulation also creates the possibility of dispute resolution across borders, according to the analysts.

1140: Vodafone says roaming changes "go against principles of predictability and consistency"

A Vodafone spokesperson said that the aims of the single market proposal are laudable but in their current form the proposals will not deliver.   
"Whilst there are some positive elements in the proposals, most notably in relation to spectrum, there are elements which we believe are harmful for the telecoms industry. Of main concern is the Commission’s proposal to make arbitrary changes to its existing plans for roaming, which the mobile industry is currently spending hundreds of millions of euros to implement.  

"This goes against the principles of regulatory predictability and consistency that the Commission rightly advocates. It is especially surprising in the light of the significant moves we have made in relation to roaming charges.
"We already offer ‘Roam Like At Home’ roaming plans as proposed by the EC. We recently introduced Vodafone Red to allow customers to take their home tariff abroad for €3 per day, which is considerably less than many hotel Wi-Fi charges."

1115: Telenor supports GSMA and ETNO statements

Norway-based operator Telenor said it regards the initiative from the EU commission "as a welcome effort to propose a more modernized regulation of the EU telecoms market".

It said it supports the statements issued by GSMA and ETNO but will at this stage offer no further detailed comments until the proposal has been studied in more detail.

"We look forward to the upcoming debate ahead of the final decision in the EU Parliament."

Orange and Alcatel-Lucent have said they will not be making any comments at this stage.

1100: Ovum analyst James Robinson says success will be judged in the medium term
Robinson says, overall, the reform package is “unsurprising” given the amount of leaked documents over the past few weeks and months.

Nevertheless, the proposals are “ambitious” but whether they go far enough is difficult to say. “Will they get firms investing in next generation networks to improve coverage and take up across the content? The answer will come in the medium term,” Robinson believes.

Despite the fact that there is to be no single regulator, the idea wont go away, according to Robinson. But more coordination, consistency and cooperation “will be welcomed” by all parties.

Robinson expects operators “of all sizes” to kick back against certain aspects of the proposals – “net neutrality will get mentioned a lot,” he predicts.

1045: Telefonica says reforms fall short

Telefonica has been in touch to say that while it appreciates the efforts the EC has made it feels the reforms do not go far enough.

"We consider that the proposed Regulation falls short of addressing the challenges of the sector and will not guarantee the expected results in terms of European competitiveness and consumer benefits through investments, growth and jobs.

"We encourage the Commission to agree with the EU Council and the European Parliament on a roadmap for a policy reform that promotes the broader principles set up in the Communication in particular the need to allow sector restructuring, the need to address the issue of the level playing field between “over-the-top” online services compared to telecom services and the need for a further push towards relieving regulatory pressure in our sector."

The Spain-based operator did say that it "very much welcomes" the final approval of the Recommendation on Costing and Non Discrimination as "a step in the right direction towards reducing regulatory burdens and promoting commercial flexibility" that should help to restore investors’ confidence in the sector.

1025: ETNO says reforms lack momentum required to achieve Digital Agenda targets

The European Telecommunications Network Operators' Association (ETNO) said it agrees with Vice-President Kroes’ overall long-term vision.

However, it said the proposals "would not overall create the momentum required to achieve the Digital Agenda targets and to contribute to Europe’s economic growth".

It added that while some of the proposals may deliver benefits for the sector in the long term - it mentioned the proposed stronger harmonisation in the field of spectrum releases and auctions – the proposals "fall short" elsewhere.

"We encourage the Commission not to pursue with provisions diverting investment resources from the sector but instead to address the missing elements already outlined in the Communication, in particular the need to allow market restructuring, a move towards a light-touch regulatory approach and addressing the level playing field between the rules that apply to “over-the-top” online services compared to telecom services."

1000: Belgacom aligns itself with GSMA

Belgacom have said that their reaction to the reforms is is in line with the GSMA Statement - link here: Anne Bouverot, Director General of the GSMA, said last night that the package "needs to do much more" to support the goal of increasing investment in Europe’s telecoms infrastructure.

Belgacom added: "We want to continue to invest in this sector – we invest every year +/- €750 million Euro."

0930: BT supports move to boost the telecoms single market

UK operator BT said in a statement that although existing EU telecoms rules “are basically sound”, more consistent regulatory treatment is needed for converging markets and sectors.

“We welcome Commissioner Kroes’ emphasis on a level playing field for service providers like BT that operate across the EU… and we strongly endorse her approach to fibre regulation, allowing stability on copper pricing and pricing flexibility on fibre in return for guarantees of fair competition and genuine non-discrimination,” it said in a statement.

On net neutrality, which the EC intends to enshrine in law, BT said it agreed with “the Commission’s principle of an open internet”, but added: “the self-regulatory approach followed in the UK already meets this need”.

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