EU tells member states to promote Wi-Fi

In March, 2003 the European Commission adopted a recommendation to promote public access wireless broadband. Erkki Liikanen, European Commissioner for Enterprise and Information Society said, “[t]oday’s Recommendation is an important step for the deployment of multi-platform and high-speed Internet connections. The R-LAN technology will give European citizens ready-access to the knowledge-based society when in public places, and away from their

In March, 2003 the European Commission adopted a recommendation to promote public access wireless broadband. Erkki Liikanen, European Commissioner for Enterprise and Information Society said, “[t]oday’s Recommendation is an important step for the deployment of multi-platform and high-speed Internet connections. The R-LAN technology will give European citizens ready-access to the knowledge-based society when in public places, and away from their home location and will be complementary to other means to access broadband services.

It is no secret that the Commission is concerned about the regulatory burdens placed by member states upon wireless ISPs. Italy and France, for instance, require permission from the relevant regulatory agency for certain types of public wireless networks, while other EU countries do not.

Anyone who has lived in Europe knows how expensive broadband and telecommunications can be and how much power the incumbent telco operators continue to enjoy in their local markets — even though the EU passed legislation quite sometime ago to deregulate and open local markets to competition.

I believe the problem lies in the following: the member states charged with adopting and enforcing deregulation continue to own a large chunk of shares in the former monopoly telco. There may be some exceptions but at least here in the Netherlands, the Dutch government has a significant stake in KPN. It’s 2003 and there is barely any competition in the market for local telephone service. The Dutch government has an inherent conflict of interest and therefore cannot be trusted to deregulate the market. I cannot imagine they would thrilled about the wonderful things you can do with wireless technologies, for instance, Voice over IP and sharing broadband connections.

If you have the latest news on legal and regulatory requirements within the EU and outside as well, please let us know. I’m creating a Hall of Fame for countries that actively promote wireless networking and Hall of Shame for those who stubbornly cling to their bureaucratic ways (or have conflicts of interest).