EU threaten to slash broadband pricing

Competition Commissioner Mario Monti said in a statement that progress on telecoms deregulation in Europe remains ‘extremely disappointing’.

Unless something is done soon his office may soon ‘expand its field of action’ to investigate new complaints and ‘ensure a level playing field’.

Deutsche Telekom, has already fallen foul of the EU regulators using such powers. Last May a formal investigation accused it of trying to force new companies out of the market with ‘unfair pricing practices’ for access to the local fixed lines.

France Telecom’s Wanadoo unit is also under investigation in December for allegedly undercutting its competitors. And BT’s reputation when it comes to aiding the local loop unbunling process is not exactly spotless.

The latest complaints are ‘not so much about prices, but more about the conditions at which new entrants are allowed to install equipment in the premises of current dominant players’.

‘We have received strong signs of discontent on the conditions offered by the incumbents to companies trying to access local telephone exchanges,’ said Monti.

EU officials see deregulation of this ‘last mile’ of wire connecting homes and businesses as crucial to bringing down Europe’s relatively high telephone charges and promoting broadband access to the internet.

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