The European Commission has scrapped all regulation relating to the retail market for access to fixed telephony and the wholesale market for fixed call origination.

It has also redefined two wholesale broadband markets.

The changes to fixed voice regulation, which come into effect immediately, reflect consumers moving to mobile, VoIP and OTT solutions.

In addition, the EC said that customers who still use fixed telephony are now able to purchase fixed access from a number of different platforms, such as traditional telephone networks, fibre or cable networks as well as from alternative operators offering broadband and voice services over unbundled local loops.

European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes commented: "I am delighted to announce this cut in telecoms red tape. It is the result of increased competition in telecoms markets and it takes us a step closer to a real Connected Continent”.

According to Deloitte Competition Director Schellion Horn, many European regulators have already removed regulations from these markets.

She added: “The change will give incumbent operators more pricing flexibility and allow them to use the opportunity to create more innovative pricing for voice, broadband and television packages.

“Furthermore, it will provide them with significantly more discretion in the way they develop their networks and transition to new technologies.”

The EC also announced changes to wholesale products needed for the provision of retail broadband services.

The new rules recognise that “virtual access products” can be considered substitutes to physical unbundling when they fulfil certain characteristics.

The EC said the changes were designed to limit regulatory burdens to what is strictly necessary for competitive broadband access and investment.

It added that it was increasing its focus on the distinct needs of business users.

Horn said the changes reflected the fact that European operators have diverged “significantly” in the network technologies they have implemented and that a number of retail broadband providers have successfully entered the market.

She added: “This market redefinition recognises these technological and market developments. It provides operators and regulators with additional flexibility for agreeing the regulatory solution that is most appropriate in each Member State.

“It also acknowledges the importance of encouraging investment in underlying infrastructure and promoting the development of high speed networks that are necessary for economic growth.

“The challenge for regulatory authorities is to ensure that pricing remedies applied to these broadband markets foster retail competition and provides sufficient incentives for the existing operators to invest.

“Striking this balance, in a market with significant uncertainties around demand and technological change, will be difficult. Yet this is crucial if countries are to benefit from increased access to high speed broadband.”

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