Neelie Kroes: Competition for a Connected Continent

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The Single Market remains Europe’s crown jewel, and completing it a main objective of the European Commission.  Communications services should be no exception. Yet, today, EU telecoms is fragmented: with distinct national markets, diverging implementation of EU rules, and high barriers to entry. That applies for all of the vital rules affecting the sector, from authorisations to operate; to access to inputs; to consumer protections.  And what is the end result? Communicating across borders is complex and costly. It is too hard to replicate services, or ensure quality and continuity in different markets. For providers and their customers.  And that has an impact on the single market freedoms that Europeans ought to enjoy. Citizens and businesses.

How do you explain why it costs more to call or text across borders than within them, even when there is no objective extra cost? How do you explain why the seamless service they expect drops off when you change country? How do you explain to an innovative start-up why they face different costs and diverging quality to provide the same services? And how does that fit with the promise of a fast-developing digital world; with new gadgets and new services appearing all the time? Will connected cars have to pay roaming surcharges? Come on. That is not what a single market is about.  I think we all recognise why this is a problem. The world is changing – with more and more services going digital. Our competitiveness relies on modern, high-speed networks. Performance in every sector needs fixed and mobile broadband, to deliver the connectivity our economy craves. And that in turn needs a strong, healthy telecoms sector, able to innovate and invest within a dynamic and competitive market.  Here to read more.

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