Dutch telecommunications regime rated highly
The Netherlands has secured second position on the regulatory scorecard commissioned by the European Competitive Telecommunications Association (ECTA), an organisation that looks after the regulatory and commercial interests of new entrant telecoms operators, ISPs and suppliers of products and services to the communications industry. This impressive rating reaffirms the dedication shown by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Independent Post and Telecommunications Authority of the Netherlands (OPTA – Onafhankelijke Post en Telecommunicatie Autoriteit) in ensuring the effective implementation of the European directives and enforcement of the Dutch Telecommunications Act which are designed to promote competition in the electronic communications markets and to protect consumers. Every year the ECTA conducts a benchmark assessment in the various EU member states. This time it covered 19 countries. Last year the Netherlands ended in fourth position. The Netherlands attributes its superior rating to the manner in which it implements the relevant legislation. In addition, the transparency of its regulatory regime has been lauded. This is partly due to OPTA’s ongoing dialogue with the market in the form of consultations, for example. In addition, the regulatory authority has managed to create healthy conditions for competition in the broadband markets. The Netherlands boasts the highest broadband penetration rate in the world. Another aspect in relation to which OPTA is rated highly, is its procedure for resolving disputes between market parties. The manner in which the regulatory authority deals with new technological developments, such as VoIP (telephone calls using the Internet protocol) and the proposed restructuring of KPN’s network to a next-generation network (ALL IP), has also merited a favourable assessment. Improvement The ECTA’s report also highlights areas of the telecommunications regulatory regime in the Netherlands in which there is room for further improvement. One aspect in respect of which OPTA is capable of further improvement is the processing time required for market analyses and dispute resolution. OPTA believes that gains may be secured in this respect by bringing parties together where appropriate to encourage them to present solutions themselves, as it has now also done with regard to the ALL IP case. Such solutions, which enjoy the market’s support, also have the added advantage of preventing or shortening legal procedures, thereby boosting the efficiency of regulatory work. The main difference between OPTA and the British regulatory authority, which has secured pole position, lies in the fact that it is responsible for the regulation of frequencies and the media in addition to electronic communications. This seems to be an effective approach given the ongoing convergence of the markets for electronic communications. You will find the ECTA’s study on its website at www.ectaportal.com.