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22-06-2012 17:35:00

EU Telecoms CEOs Urge Leaders to Ease Regulation

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BRUSSELS--Chief executives of Europe's major telecoms companies Friday called on EU leaders to agree to ease regulation in the telecoms market at their summit next week, in order to facilitate investment in the sector.

"Political commitment is needed to reduce regulatory pressure in the telecoms sector to reassure investors that their business case will not be undermined," the CEOs said in a letter. They also called for leaders "to avoid any new measures adding burdens on regulated companies, for example in the fields of price regulation and non-discrimination."

The European Union aims to extend Internet access at 30 megabytes per second to all citizens across the bloc, and access at 100 Mbps to 50% of households, by 2020. Reaching this target will require substantial infrastructure investment, with many companies holding back on building networks until they know they can recoup the cost.

Still, the European Commission says increasing broadband penetration by 10 percentage points would accelerate Europe's annual gross domestic product growth by between 0.9 and 1.5 points. The bloc's executive arm has offered almost 9.2 billion euros ($11.53 billion) from 2014 to 2020 as funding for broadband infrastructure, and earlier this month started a consultation on the rules that should govern the provision of state aid to broadband networks.

The letter is signed by the CEOs of companies belonging to ETNO, a trade association with 40 members including most former state-owned telecoms companies with aggregate annual revenue of more than EUR600 billion. Deutsche Telekom AG (DTE), Telecom Italia SpA (TIT), Belgacom SA (BELG.BT) and Telefonica SA (TEF) all signed.

"We are confident that the growth strategy to be adopted by the EU heads of states and governments will fully seize the opportunities of the ICT sector, by promoting a balanced, proportionate and predictable policy and regulatory environment," they said.

Write to Frances Robinson at frances.robinson@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 22, 2012 11:35 ET (15:35 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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