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TELECOMMUNICATIONS : UNBUNDLING OF LOCAL LOOP IN BELGIUM SOON.

Belgium appears to be on track towards increasing competition on the broadband market. The European Commission has shown its support, on 3 January, for measures proposed in November 2007 by the telecommunications regulation authority, the IBPT (Institut Belge des services Postaux et des Telecommunications), which will lessen the dominance of the incumbent operator Belgacom. It is a boon for the Belgian consumer, who is today paying a high price for broadband access. The Belgian market is currently characterised by a broadband penetration rate much higher than the European average (23.9% against 18.2% at European level), but essentially through cable networks. Access based on the unbundling of the local loop remains excessively low.

Belgacom will be obliged to unbundle access to its local loop and to grant wholesale broadband access to competitors. "In a non discriminatory and transparent manner, and at cost-oriented prices", according to the usual European principles. VDSL, a very high speed broadband network, is included in the definition of broadband and must constitute, for the user, a substitute for other broadband offers.

The Commission's green light was necessary for the IBPT to be able to implement the planned measures, in accordance with the so-called article 7' procedure of the European framework directive on the telecommunications market (2002/21/EC). This procedure requires national operators to notify the Commission of regulatory measures aimed at opening the telecommunications market to competition. Almost 700 notifications have been made so far, according to a Commission spokesperson.

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Publication:European Report
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:4EUBL
Date:Jan 7, 2008
Words:246
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