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Topics: Connected Continent
Organisations: FASTWEB

connected continentfastwebproposal

Fastweb’s Position

on the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council

laying down measures concerning the European single market for electronic communications and to

achieve a Connected Continent - COM(2013) 627

Suggested Amendments

Fastweb is the main fibre-investing challenger in the Italian broadband market. Fastweb was a pioneer in the deployment of fibre in Europe, being the first operator to deploy a FTTH network that covers 7 urban areas and more than 1.8 million customers. Fastweb

till is the broadband operator that invests most in fibre

deployment in Italy.

Where it has not been able to roll out FTTH, Fastweb has deployed its fibre up to the central office of the former national monopolist and has served its customer base through LLU, i.e. by leasing the last mile of the telecom incumbent legacy access network. This has proved to be a winning strategy. Thanks to the end-toend control of the network, Fastweb has been able to innovate introducing ever higher speeds and innovative services, in most cases well in advance of the former monopolist.

Last year Fastweb has launched a 400 million euros investment plan to further expand its proprietary NGA through a fibre-to-

the curb (FTTC) network. Thanks to this new investment, Fastweb’s NGA coverage will

reach 5.5 million households. Before the end of 2014 our investments will bring broadband speeds up to a 100mbps to 20% of the Italian population, thus significantly contributing to the achievement of the targets of the Digital Agenda for Europe.

Fastweb’s history is the evidence that infrastructure-based

competition is vital

in delivering innovation and consumer welfare.

This document contains Fastweb’s

position on the European Commission proposal for a regulation on a

Connected Continent adopted on 11 September 2013. Each section of the document contains suggestions for amendments that, in our view, would significantly improve the quality of the Commission proposal.

Executive summary

The poor preparatory work and the lack of a proper stakeholder consultation undermine the oundness of the whole proposal: the fundamental assumptions underpinning the Connected Continent proposal are weak and they have not been properly assessed, neither internally the European Commission, which has failed to produce a valid Impact Assessment study, nor externally, as stakeholders have not been consulted on concrete proposals. Had such key preparatory steps been performed accurately and in time, the Commission proposal would be very different.

There is no need to act urgently as Europe still tops global rankings when it comes to broadband and investments are taking place. Especially with respect to the US, the pro-competitive regulation existing in Europe has allowed huge consumer benefits and dynamic innovations in the sector. The European legislator should examine carefully the Connected Continent proposal and eventually rejecting unjustified proposed provisions or sections that pre-empt the due (2014) evaluation of the implementation and possible comprehensive review of the regulatory framework adopted by the EU legislator in 2009.

While we welcome the goal of a more integrated Single Market for electronic communications

ervices, the Connected Continent proposal doesn’t seem to introduce measures

driving

towards this goal while it would be particularly harmful to competition - and to consumers - to the extent that:

Infrastructure based competition is undermined, while it should be preserved and promoted by encouraging NGN deployment by alternative operators and incumbents alike. The Connected Continent proposal (i.e. Articles 18 and 35) contains technology-biased provisions that would have the effect of discouraging or excluding alternative operators from future investments and introduces unjustified changes to the current balance of the 2009 telecom framework.

The proposals amending the International Roaming Regulation adopted last year are at odds with the objectives of promoting competition in international roaming services and would drive MVNOs out of the international roaming market, while giving to the largest MNO exclusive advantages.

Retail regulation of fixed international calls is disproportionate and unnecessary given the current high level of competition of the relevant market. Moreover, some of the proposals on consumer protection, if adopted as such would give an unfair competitive advantage to incumbent operators: for instance Article 28 on contract termination provides the ability for consumers to terminate their contract at no charge, but at wholesale level incumbent operators would remain free to charge competitors for such termination.

Key suggested amendments

Deletion of Article 18

Regulatory conditions related to European virtual broadband access

product

Article 18 undermines infrastructure competition and it violates the principle of technological neutrality by asking national regulators to give preference to virtual access over physical access.

See section 4 below

Deletion of Article 35 - Amendments to Directive 2002/21/EC

Article 35 is aimed at reviewing the Framework Directive, which is the key legal instrument of the whole regulatory framework for electronic communications. The next Commission should report and propose to the new European Parliament upon a comprehensive review of such framework (see Article 25 of the Framework Directive as amended in 2009), but the Connected Continent proposal with Article 35 preempts such a review by inserting new objectives and new procedures that are being proposed without a valid impact assessment and without takeholders consultation.

See section 4.1 below

Amendment to Article 37 - Amendments to Regulation (EU) No 531/2012 (Roaming III)

The proposed new article 4a of the Roaming III Regulation currently excludes Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) from o should be adjusted in order to allow MVNOs to effectively provide Roaming like at home services. Wholesale tariffs for mobile access should be brought down to actual cost-oriented levels. Without such reduction neither MVNOs nor other competitive operators, such as small Mobile Network Operators will be able to compete.

See section 5 below

Deletion of Article 21 - Elimination of restrictions and discrimination (International fixed-line calls)

The proposed Article 21 regulates international call retail tariffs, which are currently subject to intense competition by different market players. Such initiative is not only unnecessary but also disproportionate and damaging competition between many operators that already offer domestic tariffs for international calls.

See section 6 below

1.

The poor preparatory work and the lack of a proper stakeholder consultation undermine the oundness of the whole proposal

Fastweb values the call for input of the European Parliament as an appreciable opportunity to contribute to the discussions on the current legislative proposal. However, we would like to stress that such a public consultation cannot in any case replace or even patch the lack of a thorough public consultation during the preparatory work on the proposal. More to the point, the EP should consider that while this opportunity is much appreciated, providing views on the current proposal it is not the same thing as it would have been providing views on the issue to address and on the solutions to be proposed in the preparatory phase. Had the views of various stakeholders been sought before, we would now be discussing on a different proposal arguably.

Instead, the European Commission announced it was preparing a proposal to achieve the single market in the electronic communication sector with mainly on the press in spring 2013. Stakeholders were never invited to contribute to the debate and to provide input. There was only one public debate on the issue during

a “stakeholder event” organised on 17 June 2013

and in that occasion the Commission did not release any

detail about the content of the initiative. During the few preparatory weeks the Commission sought input from a few carefully selected stakeholders but never was given opportunity to the public at large to contribute to the discussion. The Board of EU telecom regulators BEREC was among the neglected stakeholders as expressly regretted in its recent opinion on the proposal.

1

This point has been raised by the Impact Assessment Board of the Commission that gave a negative opinion in three different occasions on the draft impact assessment that was submitted to it by DG Connect. The lack of an appropriate public consultation is also a point of the IMCO initial appraisal of the impact assessment on the relevant proposal:

Annex I to the IA [Impact Assessment]

provides a ‘detailed overview of consultation of stakeholders

and other

EU institutions’. This is a list of public events, organised by the Commission, including a

brief overview, per specific objective, of the main stakeholder positions. However, it is clear that the

Commission’s self-imposed

minimum standard for stakeholder consultation is not met in this case.

In its last (third) opinion on the IA, the Commission’s IA Board requested the Commission to better incorporate stakeholders’ views and, where those views are divergent or conflicting, to explain how

their concerns have been taken into account and/or balanced against each other. This request does not seem to have been followed-up.

1

See October 2013 (BoR (13) 142): http://berec.europa.eu/eng/document_register/subject_matter/berec/download/0/2922-berec-

views-on-the-proposal-for-a-regula_0.pdf

2.

General remarks

The alleged need to act urgently

The European Commission justifies the lack of prior public consultation on an urgent need to act to respond to an alleged crisis of the sector and on the perceived need to create optimal conditions for greater investment in the interest of European consumers and the overall European economy. However the background analysis carried out by the Commission of the weaknesses stemming from the current regulatory framework is rather inaccurate and this influences the choice of regulatory proposals as well as the legal vehicle chosen by the Commission.

On this point we would first reiterate the points expressed by BEREC in its opinion, namely:

The analysis overlooks the fact that actual average broadband (download) speeds in the EU are ignificantly higher than in the US, across technologies: 36% faster (xDSL and FTTx) and 92% faster (cable).

The analysis does not refer to the dynamics of next generation networks, which are being rolled out by operators at an increasing pace. Figures on the progress of NGA deployment within Europe confirm this view. Within just one year, from April 2012 to May 2013, a number of European incumbents increased their NGA coverage considerably. For example, in the UK coverage increased from around 25% of households to almost 55%, in Denmark from under 40% to almost 60%, and in the Netherlands from just over 40% to almost 70%.

The Commission claims Europe trails other regions on 4G deployment. However, despite variations across Member States, the main operators in the EU are investing heavily in very high speed mobile networks. It should also be borne in mind that the quality and coverage of 3G networks is higher in the EU than in the US, which has an important impact on the timing and pace of 4G deployment. In any event, Western Europe boasts more operational LTE networks than any other region.

The Commission cites market fragmentation in Europe, but the four main European mobile operators together already hold an EU market share of over 60%, with the top two having a combined ubscriber base of 221 million. Their US counterparts (AT&T and Verizon) have a combined ubscriber base of 206 million. Almost all fixed operators have a national footprint (as in the US), and it is not clear what scale benefits might arise from having a bigger footprint, since fixed costs are intrinsically linked to local networks. In any case, there is no sign that this has hindered either innovation or investment. (See figure 1 below)

In terms of prices, European markets appear strongly competitive: fixed broadband tariffs in 16 countries in Europe (from the 23 reported by the OECD) are lower than those in the US. (See table 2 below)

Insufficient consideration has been given to the progress made towards regulatory harmonisation by BEREC under the enhanced regulatory cooperation mechanisms introduced during the last

Framework review in 2009. Rather than build on the proven strengths of these mechanisms, these proposals would override them.

Fastweb agrees with BEREC that t

he Commission’s assessment of the electronic communications markets’

performance is based on a range of indicators that does not properly reflect the current legislative

framework’s objectives, within which the proposed regulation is actually situated; indeed, the Commission

evaluates such performance on the background of parameters such as the quality of services offered in the EU (with very little reference to their price or their relevance to national or local needs) and the level of

investment achieved (with a very short term view), leaving aside some of the current framework’s goals such

as the level of employment attained (on which the EU sectorial performance was very satisfactory compared to the US one) and the fight against geographic or social digital divide. Privileging some indicators only, and assessing them only partially, the Commissions fails, on the one hand, to make clear what the relative weight

of each of the current framework’s policy objectives should be in their view; on the other hand, it also fails to

nap a proper picture of the state of play of European markets, disregarding all the actual benefits that European consumers are enjoying, thanks to the effective competition in retail markets as a result of an efficiently implemented current regulatory framework.

Figure 1: Comparative scale of US and EU operators in terms of subscribers

0

20.000 40.000 60.000 80.000

100.000 120.000 140.000 160.000

2012 Subscribers 000's

AT&T Vodafone Verizon Wireless Telefonica Sprint Nextel[1] T-Mobile EU T-Mobile US Orange

Source: FCC 16th Report, TF,T-Mob and Orange Company reports, VF Various

The ITRE policy department in its recent study also acknowledges that Europe tops the global broadband rankings.

2

To the

question “is

Europe falling behind on ultra-fast broadband?

”, the experts

hired by the EP

answer

“Europe

is doing well on those aspects of fixed broadband that matter most, including basic

broadband adoption, retail prices, the speeds that consumers actually receive, and the ability to use available applications

”.

Overall there are no signs indicating that the current regulatory framework is not functioning correctly but the poor financial performance of some large incumbent operators that seem to be squeezed between, on the one hand, the technological change pushing them to evolve their business model in order to reflect market changes to counterbalance physiological revenue decline (i.e. mainly caused by the transition from voice revenues to data revenues) and, on the other hand, the increased debt contracted with a view to expand

2

Entertainment x.0 to Boost Broadband Deployment

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/etudes/join/2013/507479/IPOL-ITRE_ET%282013%29507479_EN.pdf

Box 1: Market conditions in the US

A low level of competition on fixed broadband causes high prices and poor speeds.

[All prices exclude local taxes]

Retail prices are comparatively higher, also for basic speed

Only 2 operators provide ultra-broadband packages, but at very high prices

across borders beyond Europe.

The last Commission’s Digital Agenda scoreboard

3

still shows that in many

EU countries and especially in Italy and Spain, incumbent operators after more than 10 years of liberalisation till retain about 50% of fixed broadband market shares above all other market players. Any proposed measure (see section below on Infrastructure competition and the proposed Article 18) that will have the effect of weakening pro-competitive ex-ante regulation would only help incumbent operators to regain national monopolies on current networks and establish new monopolies on future networks to the detriment of consumers, SMEs and all telecom end-users alike. That is the whole EU economy.

Finally, the new Article 25 of Directive 2002/21/EC, as modified by the Better Regulation Directive adopted in the current legislature, requires the European Commission to review the functioning of the Framework and to report to the European Parliament and to the Council not later than 25 May 2014. Proposing to amend the framework without a concrete evaluation and assessment before that date not only pre-empt the assignment the Co-Legislator gave to the next Commission but also seriously undermines legal certainty overall.

3.

The Single Market dimension and the single authorisation regime

In the Connected Continent proposal, the Commission depicts the single authorisation regime as an enabler allowing national players to launch services in other EU member states, thus incentivising the development of pan-European operators. However we believe that the proposed measures are rather irrelevant with respect to the achievement of the purported objective.

3.1. Fixed telecom services

At least as far as fixed telecom services are concerned, the absence of EU wide operators is not due to a regulatory deficit (or a lack of single authorization) but to it is due to the inner industry structure. In order to provide fixed telecom services in multiple countries or even regions, it is always necessary to duplicate important fixed costs mainly linked to the need to deploy a remarkable network infrastructure in each country of operations. A Single Authorisation regime might alleviate the regulatory burden on telecom companies, but it would not change the fundamental nature of this business and would definitely not encourage operators to launch services in new countries. As explained, only the guarantee of a sufficient market share would make the investments required to enter a new market sustainable.

The history of liberalisation in Europe is a good example in this respect: late in the nineties when the market was liberalised and opened to call selection and call pre-selection services (CS, CPS) many if not most EU operators entered new markets in other EU Member States because such services (CS and CPS) were based on reselling incum

bents’ services

and did not require investments in the deployment networks in each

3

https://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/sites/digital-agenda/files/DAE%20SCOREBOARD%202013%20-%202-

BROADBAND%20MARKETS%20.pdf

country. This process stopped in 2002/2003 with the first complete regulatory framework for electronic communications and the transition to infrastructure-based competition (based on LLU), which determined higher costs to run operations in each country. Operations in multiple countries were discontinued by most operators, as the costs involved by the rolling out of proprietary networks in each countries implies relevant fixed costs that require economies of scale at local level to be sustainable.

The consolidation process that the sector has faced over the past few year indicates that, since operators are moving up on the ladder of investments, there is no space for more than 3-4 fixed telecom operators in each country. Therefore, creating a single authorization regime or a standardized wholesale product, assuming that such tools would encourage European champion to launch services in multiple countries, does not indeed lead us any closer to a Single Market for electronic communications. The real barrier to pan European operators does not lay in the lack of harmonization but in the additional fixed costs required to provide services through WBA/LLU/VULA in each country and the Minimum Efficient Scale (MES) required in each country to make the operations sustainable.

In its analysis of the policy proposal, BEREC acknowledges the above reasoning as follows:

While the proposals are presented as a means of completing the single market for electronic communications, the prospects of doing so rely on many other factors. These include, inter alia, the financial condition of operators, administrative and commercial law frameworks, existing tax regimes, labour costs, administrative law and actual market demand. BEREC believes that the impact of these additional factors has not been adequately considered, raising serious questions around the proportionality of the proposed regulatory intervention. Along the same lines, looking at the wider digital economy, BEREC notes that the overall output of the IT sector in Europe does not depend olely on the telecoms industry. Rather, it requires the development of sound relationships between telecoms operators and actors in neighbouring sectors (e.g. OTT providers, providers of operating platforms, equipment manufacturers).

3.2. Mobile services

As for mobile, while we agree that further harmonisation in spectrum policy is desirable, we would like to tress that currently four main European mobile operators together already hold an EU market share of over 60%, with the top two having a combined subscriber base of 221 million. This means that in the mobile ector there is already quite a high degree of market concentration. As we will explain in the Roaming ection below, the current proposal, if adopted as such, will cause further market concentration by giving exclusive privileges to the largest existing MNOs, at the expenses of competition and consumer welfare.

4.

The importance of infrastructure competition and proposed EU Broadband inputs

The current proposal lays out significant changes to the objectives of the EU regulatory framework and to the access directive in the proposed Articles 18 and 35.

Article 18 in particular asks regulators to favour so called virtual unbundling (EU VULA) access obligations over the physical unbundling access that proved to be the best competition enabler so far. To explain it very briefly physical access products such as LLU, allow competitors to lease the copper line and use it with their own technological equipment thus allowing them to differentiate their offer making them able to provide peeds often higher than the speeds provided by the incumbent. On the other hand, virtual access products (such as WBA or VULA) de facto make all access seekers re-sellers of a turn-

key “active” product developed

by the incumbent operator, with little or no capability to differentiate or innovate. In this respect the Commission talks about equivalent functionalities between virtual and equivalent access products but for the very nature of virtual access product VULA cannot be in any case considered equivalent to LLU or SLU (subloop unbundling)(See Box 3 below).

The development of FTTC networks (see Box 2) provides an excellent example. In a FTTC network, alternative operators develop their proprietary fibre network up to the street cabinet and require access to the existing copper from there to the user

premises.

While in theory both SLU (i.e. leasing the physical copper from the cabinet top the user premises) and VULA (acquiring a bitstream developed by the incumbent) achieve the same objective of completing the network and enabling the operator to provide the ultra-broadband service to its customers, there is a huge difference between the two: only physical access to the sub-loop give alternative operators an end-to-end control over the network, allowing them to innovate and differentiate their ultra-broadband services.

Box 2: FTTC-sustainable for altnets as well as incumbents

Incumbents and a few Altnets like Fastweb in Europe are massively rolling out NGA FTTC network which compared to FTTH is significantly less costly, allows a quicker and less intrusive rollout, allows a more homogeneous geographical coverage and gives up 80mbps immediately available.

FTTC moreover can be rolled out in a fully scalable manner allowing subsequent upgrades to FTTB and finally FTTH.

In Italy Fastweb is massively rolling out FTTC alongside Telecom Italia but thanks to its innovative technology and its strategy of differentiation it is offering more than three times the speeds. Telecom Italia offers on FTTC speeds up to 30mbps (see http://www.telecomitalia.it/internet/fibra/tuttofibra) while Fastweb offers up to 100mbps (see http://www.fastweb.it/adsl-fibra-ottica/rete-fibra-ottica/#UltraFibra). The proposed measures, if adopted as such, will have a dramatic negative effect on this type of infrastructure-based competition. The proposal sets out a dangerous deregulation principle and expresses a

“technologically partial” (as opposed to technologically neutral) principle that virtual access remedies (VULA,

WBA) should be preferred to physical access remedies (LLU, SLU). NRAs would be required (ASAP after the entry into force of the regulation) to remove the physical access remedies on the basis of the infrastructures and investments of incumbents and altnets. The imposition of cost orientation remedies would also be discouraged.

Such a proposal would discourage investment from alternative operators as it would de facto confine them to almost mere reseller business models. It would make no sense for an alternative operator to make relevant investment without being able to access SLU and therefore being able to compete effectively with the services provided by the incumbent operators.

Box 3

4.1. Review of the whole Telecom Framework

Moreover the fundamental amendments to the Telecom Framework Directive (2002/21/EC) contained in Article 35 of the proposal would change the principles that have been the basis of whole regulation of the ector for the last 15 years. Instead of stimulating competition (which is the main investment driver) the proposal is based on the false assumption that providing incumbent operators with an advantage and giving them a privileged role in the roll out of NGA would automatically generate more investments. On the contrary, as competition has proved to be in the past years the only effective driver for investments, by preventing alternative operators from developing proprietary networks, the proposed legislation reduce overall incentive to deploy NGAs especially in countries with low or no cable penetration.

The Commission is also asking to be given a right to impose the withdrawal of ex-ante remedies in presence of any competitive constraint, even in case of similar services proposed from OTTs. This will also entail that wholesale broadband markets would not be regulated in case of existence of a cable network or mobile data networks. In countries like Italy, where there is no cable, not even in urban areas, the consumer could be left with the choice between

a mobile data subscription and Telecom Italia’s broadband offer only with no

competition left on the market.

The detrimental effects on the proposed legislation on infrastructure-based competition are also recognized

in the BEREC’s assessment which

could not be clearer by reading:

Infrastructure-based competition is undermined

The preference for an active remedy as opposed

to a passive one is at odds with the Commission’s objective to foster investment in the sector, and runs

counter to the promotion of infrastructure-based competition, one of the key pillars of the current

framework. The explicit preference for a particular active remedy limits individual NRAs’ ability to impose

the most proportionate remedy to achieve infrastructure-based competition, taking account of national

circumstances. In this respect, the Commission’s presumption that two networks represent sufficient competition in a given national market also constitutes a significant interference with NRAs’ ability to

effectively regulate for competition in their national markets.

BEREC is also very outspoken about the dangers of Article 35 of the Commission proposal requiring to ubject markets to ex-ante regulation based on new regulatory objectives:

The proposals add a new regulatory objective (the promotion of the global competitiveness of the EU) to

the current EU Framework’s goals of promoting competition and efficient investment. For example, the

global competitiveness of the EU would need to be explicitly considered when determining whether a market should be subject to ex ante regulation (at the national level). While competitiveness and

competition are not necessarily in contradiction and BEREC obviously shares the desire that the EU be globally competitive, shoe-horning this objective into the regulatory framework as is proposed risks regulatory conflict and introduces new grounds for legal challenge of regulatory decisions (increasing

legal uncertainty, which ultimately undermines the EU’s global

competitiveness). Indeed, such a new

focus suggests that regulatory decisions should be also aimed at triggering market consolidation

in

potential conflict with the fundamental purposes of the current framework (to promote competition). At the same time, a number of elements in the proposals seem to undermine the principle of effective infrastructure competition, which is embedded in the current regulatory framework.

For all the above, Fastweb urges the European Parliament to delete Article 18 and Article 35 of the proposal and to call upon the Commission to start to carry out the required framework implementation evaluation and if necessary start a comprehensive framework review consistently with the recently adopted EP Report on Implementation report on the regulatory framework for electronic communications (2013/2080(INI)).

5.

Roaming related proposals and their poisonous effect on MVNOs

Without even entering in the discussion about the impact on regulatory certainty of amendments to a Regulation adopted roughly 18 months ago by the EU legislator, Fastweb, as an MVNO, would like to stress that Article 37 of the proposal sets out a radical change with respect to the Roaming III regulation (531/2012/EC).

Fastweb is adamant to provide “roam like home” (“RLH”)

ervices and contribute to the cancelation of

roaming surcharge within the European Union, so as to facilitate the achievement of the Single Market. However, the Connected Continent Proposal is drafted in a way to exclude MVNOs from being able to provide such services, to the advantage of dominant MNOs, which - this is a paradox - have been historically the cause of high roaming charges.

This mistake contradicts the spirit of the Roaming III Regulation, whose structural solution for roaming consisted in enhancing competition thanks to new entrants (MVNO). This fatal contradiction has been remarked also by BEREC in its opinion on the proposal:

The concept of bilateral and multilateral roaming agreements is expected to benefit the larger MNOs with existing pan-EU footprints, to the detriment of the smaller MNOs and MVNOs. The resulting reduction in competitive pressure is the exact opposite of what Roaming III was trying to achieve.

The proposed new Article 4a if adopted as such would create an anti-competitive mechanism having the effect of annulling the structural solution that was supposed to create the conditions for MVNOs to enter the international roaming market and thus create a competitive pressure on MNOs to lower roaming tariffs. Moreover, the proposal is particularly disproportionate and discriminatory against MVNOs, which are still

required to implement the costly decoupling obligation while the largest MNOs will have the possibility to easily opt-out from it and retain their customers.

With respect to the pursued policy objectives, to stimulate retail bundles comprising domestic and roaming ervices (where roaming is offered at the same retail price as domestic services), Fastweb does not see any justification for the requirement to participate in collective roaming agreements (Art 4a1) for the exemption from roaming decoupling. Such a mechanism is likely to harm competition as MVNOs will be excluded from participation in collective roaming agreements given that they are unable to offer reciprocal wholesale roaming access (and hence they have no base to negotiate wholesale roaming charges below wholesale caps). To allow for such an exemption it should be enough the requirement for any operator to be the offering of retail roaming at the same price as domestic services (RLH), but, as reiterated also by BEREC, the mechanism of roaming alliance gives a exclusionary advantage to the four biggest mobile communication groups in Europe being the only ones able to easily meet the thresholds foreseen by the proposal. MVNOs would be completely excluded from those deals.

In addition, with the current level of roaming wholesale caps MVNOs are not able to economically offer retail roam-like-at-home tariffs as MNOs typically offer wholesale mobile roaming resale access at (and not below) the level of the wholesale caps set out in the Roaming III Regulation 531/2012.

Therefore, in order to a level playing field for all operators, some technical adjustment should be made to the proposal at stake (namely, art. 37 modifying the Roaming III Regulation):

a) The new article 4a of the Roaming III Regulation should be adjusted in order to allow MVNOs to

effectively provide RLH services. This could be done by granting to MVNOs the choice to opt for a) adhering to alliances at non-discriminatory conditions; b) benefiting of bilateral/multilateral agreements signed by their respective MNO;

b) Wholesale tariffs for mobile access should be brought down to actual cost-oriented levels, at least

back to the Commission's initial proposal of July 2013. Without such reduction neither MVNOs nor other competitive operators (such as small MNOs) will be able to compete for LHR services;

c)

Due to the uncertainty created with the new proposal, which is partly overriding the Roaming III Regulation, the entry into force of the decoupling provisions should be postponed (at least to 2015) in order to allow operators to make their choice. This is particularly relevant for MVNOs which, in relative terms, have to bear higher costs than larger MNOs for decoupling.

6.

Retail regulation of international calls

Article 21 of Connected Continent Proposal contains provisions that are plainly inconsistent with the core principles of the current European Framework, because they contradict the rule that once markets are competitive further regulation should be avoided.

Specifically, Article 21 rules that international (Intra-Union) tariffs should not be more expensive than domestic tariffs. This provision is unreasonable and unnecessary because:

Many operators already offer the same tariffs for international and domestic communications, therefore a specific retail regulation is unnecessary and intrusive;

The markets at stake (international communications) have been found competitive in all Member States, therefore there are no market failures;

Differentiation between domestic and international communications may be sometimes necessary for innovative or promotional offers. With such retail regulations, such special offers may become impossible.

In addition, article 27 of the Connected Continent Proposal extends to domestic services consumption control mechanisms in place for roaming. Such initiative appears, unlike regulation concerning roaming charges, intrusive and unnecessary since there is no real problem to address. The coherence of such measure with the Single Market objective is also questionable.

Fastweb would therefore request the European Parliament to delete the proposed Article 21 and to modify Article 27 accordingly.

Once again, Fastweb is grateful for the given opportunity to provide its views on the Connected Continent proposal. We are available to answer any question or to give further explanation about any of the points raised above and we would highly appreciate the possibility of a meeting at your earliest convenience.

Kind regards,

Lisa Di Feliciantonio Head of EU Regulatory Affairs

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