Brussels, 08 Oct 2003
The European association of motorway concessionaire companies and toll operators (ASECAP) has rejected a Commission proposal recommending a shift from short range communications technology to satellite technology for the collection of tolls on Europe's roads.
ASECAP argues for the retention of dedicated short range communications (DSRC) technology (microwave technology), which is currently used by the majority of European countries employing road toll systems. A lot of money has been invested in working towards compatibility between the different national systems, states the ASECAP position paper. The Commission, however, claims that systems based on microwave technology can never be totally compatible.
In its proposal, the Commission explains why it is desirable to replace traditional toll systems with satellite technology: 'In 2008, microwave technology, a product of the 1970s, will be over 30 years old, and will have been left behind by new technological developments, even if it is still in use on the motorway networks. Satellite technology, on the other hand, boosted by the full implementation of Galileo in 2008, will have matured and had the time not only to prove itself but also to acquire the necessary experience to be able to support the European electronic toll service by itself.'
The Commission also fears the proliferation of technologies, 'which may compromise both the smooth operation of the internal market and transport policy objectives.' In response, ASECAP points to today's mass market in interoperable mobile phones. 'There is no conflict between encouraging product differentiation whilst requiring interoperability,' reads the position paper.
The communication stipulates that, by 2008, all new systems should be based on satellite technology. Recognising that investments in microwave technology have already been made or planned in several countries, the Commission recommends a period of migration that should be completed by 2012.
ASECAP remains unconvinced, however, that the current system will be outdated within the next ten years, and 'vigorously defends the right to retain the use of standardised and interoperable DSRC-based toll collection in the internal market of 25 member states', arguing that it represents the lowest cost solution for toll collection.
In other arguments aimed at resisting the phasing out of microwave technology, ASECAP argues that 'it would be more appropriate to 'let the market decide' on which technology should be implemented', and turns to the EU Treaty, which states that no directive shall go beyond what is necessary to achieve the objectives of the Treaty, 'and to do so, there is no need to eliminate DSRC,' claims ASECAP. To see the Commission's proposal, please visit: http:///europa.eu.int/eur-lex/en/com/pdf/ 2003/com2003_0132en01.pdf
To read the ASECAP position paper, please visit: http:///www.asecap.com/pdf_files/ASECAP-I nteroperability-final-position-EN.pdf