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European Regional Meeting on Fair Competition and Interconnection

European Regional Meeting on Fair Competition and Interconnection

Clarion Royal Christiania Hotel
Oslo, Norway  -  1-3 June 2004

This meeting was jointly organized by the Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority. The meeting was opened by Her Excellency Ms. Torild Skogsholm, Minister of Transport and Communications, who provided an overview of the liberalization of the market in Norway, describing its main drivers, political goals and main characteristics.

Mr. Willy Jensen, Director General of the Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority, was appointed chairperson of the meeting. Mr. Jensen's opening remarks noted that although Norway is not a European Union (EU) member state, it follows the efforts of Brussels in the field of communications because it values these as good regulatory initiatives. EU countries are now in the implementation phase of the new communications regulatory package. Mr. Jensen explained that while passing communications law is relatively simple, the implementation phase is very demanding.

The purpose of the meeting was to bring together policy makers, national regulatory authorities and ITU-D sector members from Central, Eastern and Western Europe, the Baltic States and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) region to share experiences and discuss fair competition and interconnection issues. More than 60 participants from 28 countries attended. Speakers covered all regions in Europe and all major stakeholders.

The first day of the meeting was devoted to fair competition. Presentations were made by national telecommunication regulatory authorities and operators on issues such as fair competition definition and measurement, market analysis, significant market power (SMP), remedies, and defining the respective roles of regulatory and competition authorities. The representative from Poland's regulatory authority (URTIP) underlined that fair competition does not simply mean free competition in the absence of rules, but requires a market open to all which is regulated. Afternoon discussions were moderated by Mr. Otruba, Secretary-General, European Regulators Group (ERG). Discussions focused on the transposition of the new EU package, the transition phase, the notion of SMP and dominance, transparency, and remedies. Non EU member countries also presented their competition practices. Operators provided their views on the mobile termination market and asymmetric remedies. During the last session, discussions focused on cooperation, competencies, challenges and respective roles of regulatory and competition authorities.

Interconnection issues were discussed on the second day. Several countries presented their activities in this area highlighting the methodologies they use and the challenges they face in area such as establishing Reference Interconnection Offers (RIOs), pricing, interconnection and access for converged networks, broadband regulation and mobile interconnection. In Malta, for example, the establishment of an RIO has already led to lower termination charges, both in the fixed and mobile networks. During the last session, some regulators described their most pressing interconnection issues and received feedback and advice from other participants, specifically on the basic principles and criteria in developing interconnection rate methodology. Discussion focused on whether to use cost-oriented charges based on-long run average incremental costs, price caps for a limited time period, or other solutions. Cost-orientated charges based on fully distributed costs (historical costs) and LRIC (long run incremental costs) were recommended.

The third morning was devoted to presentations and discussions on the challenges of unbundling the local loop. The session was held at the premises of operator Telenor. In concluding the discussions, it was recognized that operators and regulators have a common interest in consumer welfare and, therefore, mutual respect of work and objective is important. The closing ceremony was led by BDT Director Mr. Hamadoun I. Touré who recognized the role regulators play worldwide in reforming the sector, liberalizing the market and specifically the role that interconnection plays in ensuring fair and equitable access to all market players in the sector. He noted that other regions are closely watching how the EU member countries will implement the new regulatory framework as they seek to achieve effective and fair competition.


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