Berec to make enabling 5G priority for 2018

Tuesday 28 November 2017 | 17:54 CET | News

The EU telecom regulator Berec will make enabling 5G a priority for 2018, said Johannes Gungl, the incoming chair of Berec in 2018. Speaking at the ECTA regulatory conference in Brussels, he said Berec is taking a "holistic" approach to 5G and will consider a range of issues, from the availability of backhaul and infrastructure sharing to the impact of network slicing on net neutrality rules. 

Other priorities for Berec in 2018 wil be ensuring a consistent approach across national regulators of the EU in enforcing the net neutrality rules. The Berec members will discuss the top cases pending for net neutrality at their next plenary meeting in December in Copenhagen, Gungl said. "We have no interest in one national regulator being stricter than another" in applying the rules, he said, reiterating that the aim is a consistent application across the EU. 

SMP guidelines

Berec will also work in 2018 on identifying competition problems in the development of next-generation broadband networks. Gunghl said this means not just looking at new networks, but "there's also still work to be done" on the regulation of existing networks. This will include Berec playing an important role in the European Commission's work on updating the guidelines for determining significant market players. 

The new SMP guidelines are expected to be adopted in the first half of 2018, said DG Connect's head of unit Markets, Reinald Kruger at the ECTA conference. He said Berec and its members have been testing the Commission for several years, and the time is right for reviewing the SMP rules. A synopsis and study on the matter will be published by the Commission soon. 

Independent regulators

Gunghl also underlined the importance of an independent Berec and national regulatory authorities - both from government and industry  influence. This comes as the EU co-legislators are considering the European Commission's proposal to strengthen Berec as an independent agency. Gunghl, who is also head of the Austrian regulator RTR, said that it would not be in the best interests of the telecom industry if governments have sole discretion in determining where enforcement of the new Electronics Communications Code lies, especially as some governments face a conflict of interest with their role as shareholder in telecom operators or face budget shortfalls that could be remedied with spectrum auction proceeds. 

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