The European Regulators Group (ERG), which consists of the Regulatory Authorities of the 25 EU Member States (plus the European Commission and observers from Accession States), has today published the conclusions that it reached at its plenary meeting of 2-3 Dec 2004, as well as two public consultation documents.

The consultations concern:

Public hearings will be held relating to these consultations on 14 Jan 2005, and the deadline for filing written contributions to both consultations is 17 Jan 2005.

The conclusions of the plenary meeting contain a status update on the progress of the ERG towards reaching a Common Position on regulatory issues surrounding Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). No Common Position was reached on 2-3 Dec 2004, and the following statement was recorded in the meeting minutes.

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Regulatory aspects of Voice over IP (VoIP)

Rauni Hagman of FICORA (Finland) presented a working document in the form of a draft Common Position on VoIP (ERG (04) 41). The plenary reaffirmed the importance and urgency of the subject in particular from the point of view of legal certainty. The overall objectives, to encourage innovation and new services for the consumers, are shared within the Group and by the Commission. The main issues agreed to be further developed in the short term are numbering rights and obligations, in particular in relation to the ECS and PATS definitions, and access to emergency services. Based on Ms. Hagman’s proposal, the Group agreed that the document was not yet complete and as such not ready for publication.

In addition, the Group agreed that a basic regulatory approach with thresholds for new entrants should be investigated. The approach should allow an initially more lenient regulation of smaller operators in particular regarding numbering and emergency services. It was agreed that the working group should start working on the basics of such an approach and that a smaller voluntary group of Heads and a Commission representative would meet in early January to provide the VoIP workgroup with further instructions. According to the agreement, other regulatory approaches to encourage the development of VoIP services should also be investigated by the workgroup, as well as difficulties and possible consequences of any approach. The goal is a draft Common Position for consideration at February’s plenary meeting.

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T-REGS note: the T-REGS presentation on VoIP, delivered at the Dutch forum on Interconnection and Special Access (FIST) on 2 Dec 2004, and which is available in the Documents section of this website, contains some details on the points of discussion relating to VoIP within the ERG and between the ERG and the European Commission.  

For a discussion, please contact Alexa Veller or Yves Blondeel.