EU hopes for more mobile investment with telecoms rules overhaul

Europe is hoping a more unified telecoms sector will spur investments in fast broadband and wireless.

The European Commission will seek to harmonise national telecoms regulations in a bid to spark investment in the continent's telecoms infrastructure, while at the same time avoiding consolidation in a sector suffering as a result of Europe's financial woes.

EU telecoms commissioner Neelie Kroes told the Financial Times on Sunday that she will soon outline a set of reforms aimed at unifying Europe's fragmented telecoms sector, making it easier for operators to merge with players in different nations rather than consolidate further at a national level.

"We're working on a range of measures to create common and stable conditions across the EU for telecoms competition, investment and growth, which should also make cross-border consolidation more attractive," Kroes told the paper.

"Various forms of asset sharing can promote competition and investment – regulated access to dominant infrastructure on terms that support further investment by all players, access to other utilities' infrastructure on reasonable terms [and] sharing of wireless assets such as masts or spectrum under clear conditions."

The Commission's forthcoming guidance will address networking sharing arrangements and access to physical infrastructure that would help lower the cost of building networks and accelerate the rollout of 4G networks.

Kroes' comments follow recent efforts by Europe's telecoms chiefs to persuade the EU's competition chief Joaquin Alumnia that they should be allowed to push ahead with pan-European network sharing deals .

Alumnia however urged the executives to seek out cross-border consolidation opportunities, which would allow them to avoid existing antitrust hurdles, according to the FT

The reforms will not at this stage go so far as installing a single European regulator, however Kroes said she was seeking greater co-operation between the Commission and national regulators.

Telecoms operators are now expected to present their own findings to Kroes on the feasibility of a single European telecoms market.

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