• Telecoms

    A connected continent needs more broadband competition, not less

    Broadband competition is not only important for prices and innovation, but also for everyone’s fundamental rights. This is the core message of a new stakeholders' alliance formed by business users, consumers, digital rights advocates and alternative bro [read more]
    byFederico Poggi | 16/Nov/20155 min read
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    Broadband competition is not only important for prices and innovation, but also for everyone’s fundamental rights. This is the core message of a new stakeholders’ alliance formed by business users, consumers, digital rights advocates and alternative broadband operators.

     

    In the middle of her primary election campaign a few days ago, Hillary Clinton made her position clear, reacting to a problem that is becoming more and more apparent in the US: prices for high-speed broadband are far too high in most major cities in the United States and three-quarters of US households have at most one option for purchasing the Internet service.

    Large telecom/cable corporations are concentrating control over markets while end-users are obliged to pay super high fees as access to internet services becomes increasingly pervasive essential to anyone’s day-to-day life.

    This is the outcome of a decision not to regulate broadband access taken by the US Government during the Bush administration. US consumers and SMEs are still paying its consequences.

    Despite contradictory evidence, in Europe, large telcos managed to create the perception that EU telecom markets need to look more like the US, where the market is being dominated by large operators, leaving limited or no room for smaller players.

    Major EU incumbents claim that prices of telecom services in the EU went far too low because of fierce competition and that the moment has come to get rid of “old” access rules that allegedly would be hindering investments in fibre networks.

    The good news is that today a very large group of organisations representing competitive broadband providers, users and end-users of broadband services decided to speak up against the lobbying efforts of dominant telcos.

    Business users, consumers, digital rights advocates and alternative broadband providers are calling EU policy makers to save #netcompetition by strengthening the EU pro-competitive frameworks of rules to guarantee that EU citizens will be always the main focus of policy makers.

    There is no trade-off between pro-competitive rules and investments in broadband networks. Dominant operators and their shareholders in the financial sector keep boosting the message that without regulatory holidays the transition to Next Generation Networks (NGA) will never be achieved.

    Facts prove the opposite: both in the US and in the EU, the full transition to NGA has been completed only in highly competitive densely populated areas. As a matter of fact any private company would avoid investments upgrades if they are not obliged by the threat to lose its customer to competition.

    Broadband competition is not only important for prices and innovation: #NetCompetition is important for everyone’s fundamental rights. If broadband was to be deregulated in Europe, we would be confronted to a few gatekeepers which would be able to control our freedom of communication, restricting our human right to receive and impart information.

    That is the main reason why digital rights advocates are also calling EU policy makers to work towards more competition in broadband. The number of networks should be high enough to prevent a monopoly control from gatekeepers and let operators compete also on data security and guarantees on citizens’ rights and freedoms.

    Today, the European society is raising its voice towards policy makers through the #NetCompetition alliance, urging them to protect and foster broadband competition and user protection against astro-turfed and direct calls for de-regulation.

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