Brussels, 08 March 2002
The European Commission has emphasised the importance it attaches to unbundling of the local loop in Member States by following up legal proceedings with three countries identified as having made slow progress in the area.
Cheaper access to the Internet, better opportunities for the extension of broadband services and more consumer choice are the main benefits of European unbundling, which allows new market entrants shared access to the last mile of the incumbents' telecommunications infrastructure.
In December 2001, the Commission started legal proceedings against Greece, Germany and Portugal, due to the lack of either a reference offer or pricing for shared access. The cases against Greece and Portugal have been dropped by the Commission, following corrective action by the regulators in these countries.
However, the Commission has said that it is considering action against the German regulator due to its failure to provide a line sharing offer for the unbundled loop.
The German government has responded by saying that there may have been a misunderstanding on what constitutes line sharing, as in Germany, it is based on bilateral contracts between companies, rather than on openly published prices.
While the Commission action is presently geared towards the German regulator, it has also said that action could be taken against the incumbent, Deutsche Telekom, if it is abusing a dominant market position.
Despite this latest action, a report published at the beginning of March indicates that unbundling is progressing in the EU. The report, which analysed line sharing statistics in the 18 EEA (European economic area) countries, found that line sharing access was available in 14 of the 18 states.