Liikanen: Phone markets will grow despite doubts

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Series Details Vol.7, No.44, 29.11.01, p2
Publication Date 29/11/2001
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Date: 29/11/01

By Peter Chapman

TELECOMS chief Erkki Liikanen said yesterday (28 November) the EU's phone markets will still grow by 9.5 to €218 billion in 2001 - despite fears of doom and gloom surrounding the sector.

In his annual report on implementation of EU telecom laws the Finnish Commissioner said the fastest growing sector was mobile services, with revenue growth of 22.3 and 36 more subscribers this year; 75 of EU citizens are expected to have a mobile phone by the end of the year.

He said market liberalisation had given customers in most member states the choice of five or more operators, while prices charged by the old monopolies for long distance calls had dropped 11 this year for a three-minute call in Europe.

But he admitted a number of "problem areas" persist. He said infringement procedures would be launched 20 December against member states failing to implement the new law forcing operators to open up their local networks to competitors. Access to local loops lets new entrants offer both voice and fast internet services - through digital subscriber lines (DSL) technology.

But the report said operators in Ireland and Luxembourg had still failed to offer fully unbundled lines to other firms. Only operators in Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden had offered the "shared-access" that allows new entrants just to offer DSL. The law is also meant to ensure companies who choose to buy DSL services from the incumbents - to re-sell to their own customers - can get a fair wholesale price. But the report said only Italy, Austria, Sweden and the UK had offered wholesale lines.

Liikanen hinted that Competition Commissioner Mario Monti could take action on this issue. "We will have to see whether that is dealt with by DG Competition or as an infringement," he said.

Telecoms Commissioner Erkki Liikanen said on 28 November 2001 that the EU's phone markets will still grow by 9.5% to €218 billion in 2001, despite fears of doom and gloom surrounding the sector.

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