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UK broadband deregulation gets EC go-ahead

Ofcom gets green light to scrap regulations

The European Commission's telecommunications department has given the go-ahead to UK telecom regulator Ofcom to deregulate the wholesale broadband market in more than half the UK.

The area to be deregulated covers around 65 percent of all homes and businesses in the UK, and they all host at least four rival telecoms operators. The Commission agreed with Ofcom that these areas are "now characterised by effective competition".

"For the Commission, Ofcom's proposal represents a reasonable move towards better targeted regulation, concentrating on those geographic areas where structural competition problems persist," the Commission said.

Deregulating markets means scrapping specific rules designed to force former monopolies to compete fairly. Instead, companies will be policed by general competition rules.

"Ofcom's finding of effective competition in a substantial part of the UK broadband market shows that the more effective a national telecoms watchdog regulates, the faster can be the move to competition law, inbuilt in the EU's telecoms rules", said Viviane Reding, the EU's Telecoms Commissioner.

"I welcome the precedent set by Ofcom's proposal to define sub-national geographic markets. The proposal at the same time has enabled the Commission to provide clear guidance and policy principles for all national regulators in this important area. This should now be a solid basis for a coherent European regulatory approach to regional markets and give the required legal certainty to the market," Reding said.

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