The achievements ant future goals in the area of Telecom Rules were presented during a virtual meeting on 7 October 2020, as a part of the Steering Committee Meeting of the EU4Digital initiative, running from 5-9 October.
Over 50 participants were welcomed by Mr. Arturas Piliponis, EU4Digital Team Leader, including officials from the European Commission, members of the Eastern Partnership Electronic Communications Regulators Network (EaPeReg) and its Expert Working Groups (EWGs), representatives of the World Bank, Civil Society Forum experts, Harmonised Digital Market (HDM) Coordinators and EU Delegations.
The Telecom Rules thematic area was presented by the EU4Digital Telecom Rules stream leader, Andrejs Dombrovskis, who set out the state of play and future plans of the stream, which covers three topics – international roaming, independence of National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs), and the freeing of the 700 MHz frequency band in the Eastern partner countries.
In the area of international roaming, the current focus is to facilitate the negotiation and conclusion of a Regional Roaming Agreement (RRA) among the six Eastern partner countries, which is planned to be signed late 2020 or early 2021. As a result of signing the RRA, roaming prices are expected to be reduced by 87%, with a positive impact of €4.6 million. Furthermore, a new activity to explore possibility of setting up a common roaming space between Eastern partner countries and European Union Member States was launched during a side event, also on 7 October (read more here).
The key goal related to the NRA independence topic is to prepare country specific recommendations and action plans to strengthen NRA independence in Eastern partner countries. Initial NRA independence gap assessment findings and observations based on a common methodology have been prepared and are expected to be finalised by the end of October 2020. Based on recommendations provided in the report, country specific actions will be prepared, and, throughout 2021, EU4Digital will further provide technical support aimed at bridging the gaps identified and implementation of recommendations.
In the area of freeing 700 MHz in Eastern partner countries, a regional EaP roadmap and country specific plans towards freeing the 700 MHz radio frequency band have already been completed and handed over to countries for implementation. At the current stage, the Telecom Rules team is supporting the regional negotiations on the Regional Spectrum Agreement (RSA), which is in the final stages of alignment and is expected to be signed in late 2020 or early 2021.
During the thematic session, Mr. Arturas Piliponis, EU4Digital Team Leader, also invited participants to share their vision on the Telecom Rules area beyond 2021 and presented considerations for the future, including:
- Reduction of roaming prices between EU Member States and Eastern partner countries;
- Establishment of a mechanism and tools to comprehensively monitor internet service quality and reach;
- Design of a roadmap / action plan to promote access to competitive broadband internet services;
- Design a roadmap / action plan for the release and allocation of potential frequency bands (other than 700 MHz) for 5G mobile networks;
- Launch of 5G strategies and 5G pilot projects in EaP countries.
- Empower NRAs to promote effective competition in the partner countries’ electronic communications markets.
The presentation by the EU4Digital Facility team was followed by feedback from EaPeReg, a Q&A session, as well as a presentation by the World Bank on the Broadband project, its state of play as well as future plans.
The EU4Digital second annual Steering Committee Meeting was organised by the EU4Digital Facility as a series of virtual sessions, reviewing results achieved under the programme. Subscribe to the Newsletter to be always informed.