According to this AP story, the European Commission is going to suggest that a pan-European body should have the power to decouple large telecommunications transport companies from control over internet access. They’re calling this a “functional separation” plan, under which telecommunications platforms would be opened to competitive providers under pressure from national regulators (who themselves would be under pressure from this new body).
It’s an interesting move. There’s evidently a good deal of frustration at the Commission with national regulators – viewed as complacent and captured by the regulated entities.
Knowing that they’re a central focus of this effort, the German regulators have already fired back. They claim the decentralized system is working just fine. Indeed, all the national regulators are quite happy with their roles, and have rejected the idea of a European regulatory authority for the telecommunications market.
Viviane Reding, the EU telecommunications commissioner, knows why she’s doing this:
“I want to revolutionise the European telecom market. And that’s why we need a European supervisory authority”, Ms Reding told weekly Der Spiegel in comments quoted by German papers.
And she likes the idea of a European FCC:
In an interview with the same paper, Ms Reding said she wanted the EU telecommunications market to function like that of the United States. “In the US, you have got one market, one network from east to west, from San Francisco to New York,” she stated. “Here in Europe you have 27 scattered markets with 27 regulators with rules which sometimes oppose each other.”
Hmm. Competition among rulesets is usually a good idea. Here, though, the problem is the complacent national regulators, not their diversity in rules. At any rate, it will be interesting to watch this development unfold.
Cross-posted from Susan Crawford blog