EC cuts back on telecom reforms

Viviane Reding scraps Pan-European authority plan

BRUSSELS -- The European Commission has scaled back planned telecom reforms aimed at delivering better and cheaper Internet and cable television. The move comes after EU governments slammed the proposals as overly bureaucratic.

EU Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding has withdrawn provisions to create a Pan-European telecom authority that would oversee Europe's $375 billion telecoms markets, Internet security and radio spectrum. Instead, a more modest Office for the European Telecoms Regulators will be set up, and it will not cover Internet security or spectrum.

In the face of European Parliament protests, Reding has scrapped a French-inspired plan to transform Internet service providers into policemen with the authority to cut off subscribers who consistently download copyrighted material illegally. Only courts will be able to take such measures, under the proposals.

Reding also has been forced to reject the Parliament's suggestion of another pan-EU committee devoted to managing the so-called digital dividend of radio frequencies when it is released across Europe.

Instead, national governments will retain authority on the sharing of spectrum released by the switchover from analog to digital broadcasting.
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