Digital Agenda: Commission suspends Dutch proposal to raise wholesale rates for fixed & mobile telephony and starts an in-depth review

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The European Commission has expressed serious doubts about a new proposal from the Dutch telecoms regulator (OPTA) regarding fixed and mobile termination rates which would negatively affect consumers in the Netherlands. Termination rates are the rates telecoms networks charge each other to deliver calls between networks, and each operator has market power over access to customers on its own network. These costs are ultimately included in call prices paid by consumers and businesses.

In a previous filing in 2010, OPTA proposed to apply cost-oriented fixed and mobile termination rates, in line with the Commission’s 2009 Recommendation under the EU telecoms legislation. Despite this, OPTA’s decision was subsequently annulled in a national Tribunal ruling, which prescribed a different methodology that includes costs not directly related to call termination. Under OPTA’s new proposal based on the national Tribunal’s methodology, fixed and mobile termination rights would be twice as high as under the EU approach.

European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said: “This case is important to lay down the roles of national authorities and courts in applying EU telecoms rules in a coordinated way that brings maximum benefit to consumers and to competition.”

In the letter sent to OPTA today, the Commission explains that the new rates in this proposal do not comply with the principles and objectives of EU telecoms rules which require Member States to promote competition and the interests of consumers in the EU, as well as the development of the Single Market.

This is the first time that the Commission has used its new powers regarding national remedies under Article 7a of the Telecoms Directive (MEMO11/321) in the Netherlands. The procedure must be concluded within 3 months. Here to read more.

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