Experience shows that markets function best and society benefits most where competition is allowed to flourish. Broadband, as well as digital markets, are no exception.
The telecom sector liberalisation in the early 90s and the consequent ability of end-users to choose between several telecom providers has been key in driving network roll-out, increasing broadband performances, low prices and innovative features in all EU Member States.
Wide and affordable internet access has enabled on the one hand the modernisation of European economy and, on the other hand, it has strengthened freedom of expression and of information in the Continent.
Competition is not automatic, natural and irrevocable: in markets that naturally tend to form oligopolies or monopolies, competition needs to be enabled, fostered and safeguarded against foreclosure, excessive market concentration and attempts of re-monopolisation. Policy makers should resist the pressure to dismantle the set of rules that allows a competitive provision of broadband in the EU, as there is no trade-off between competition and network investments.
A merger-mania is raging in the European telecom scene. Big operators are looking to increase their size and reduce the number of Internet service providers in each market to gain more bargaining power towards end-users as well as content and app providers that use broadband as a key enabler. We urge the EU to carefully assess each proposed merger and take steps to ensure that consolidation is not detrimental for consumers and incentives to innovate.
Competition is an essential ingredient for any market to deliver benefits to consumers, but competition alone is not enough. A strong framework of consumer rights is necessary for consumers to reap the benefits of a competitive market. The review of the rules is a unique opportunity to update the sector's consumer protection framework and ensure that barriers to switching are addressed, unfair conditions eliminated, and consumers get accurate information and effective redress.
Last, but not least, safeguarding broadband choice in both fixed and mobile markets is not only an issue of economic dimensions. Only a competitive broadband sector and open digital market can serve a democratic society allowing all voices to be heard at any level, without censorship, discrimination or undue restrictions to freedom of communication.
...of organisations supporting competition and consumer choice in broadband and through all layers of the digital economy as the most effective way to spur innovation, drive investments in infrastructure and create consumer welfare to reduce the number of competitors, in exchange for promises of investment.