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Europe Telecoms Rules Crucial to Break Down Barriers, Kroes Says

A package of telecommunications rules being considered by Europe’s parliament this week is crucial to keeping the region’s phone companies competitive, according to European Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes.

“It’s ridiculous we still are facing a situation in Europe with 28 fragmented markets for telcos,” Kroes said today in an Bloomberg Television interview at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. “We need a healthy up-to-date telco sector. We need a single market.”

Kroes’s regulatory framework calls for an end to roaming charges for phone calls and Internet use, as well as policies to make allocation of spectrum, the airwaves that carry mobile voice and data traffic, more uniform and predictable across the more than two dozen countries in the EU.

She’s met resistance from carriers that say eliminating roaming revenue is unnecessary since the industry would have eventually cut the charges anyway, and that it’s a burden for the companies that have been battered by price wars and the economic crisis.

Consolidation “will be a consequence, function of single market, not the purpose,” she said today. “To some extent there will be consolidation” and “we also need the smaller players.”

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