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Angela Merkel tackles fast Internet in Greece as well

08 December 2012 / 15:12:36  GRReporter
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According to Chairman of the Hellenic Telecommunications and Post Commission, Leonidas Kanellos, the Greek Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation OTE is to blame for the delay in providing VDSL services to Greek consumers. According to him, the regulator complied with all legislative provisions and declined responsibility for the delay. Telecommunications companies accused him of creating barriers for the investment of up to 150 million euro in the mobile telephony sector. Kanellos however, does not agree with these accusations and claims that the regulator is not responsible for the mistakes of companies. In connection with Greece's assumption of the Presidency of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC), he predicted roaming exemption and lifting of cross border barriers.

On the issue of VDSL, which has been an ongoing problem in Greek-German relations for two years now, and which was placed at the highest level by German Chancellor Angela Merkel during her recent visit to Greece, Kanellos replied that the delay is due to the Greek telecommunications company which has violated the appropriate procedures. According to him, the company had provided the Commission with three-year projections, rather than the requested five-year ones, then it had willfully turned the VDSL programme from a pilot project into a commercial one. After the intervention of the regulator and the completion of the market analysis, the Commission proposed to the European Commission to cancel the company's distrainment.

Subsequently, the phone company again provided incomplete data to the Commission, and were then slow in fulfilling these, and, finally, the wholesale prices were approved by the regulator in December 2011. However, alternative suppliers opposed and the company was required to prove its capacity for VDSL retail, as those data were approved in May 2012. According to Kanellos, the Commission's requirements were fulfilled in September 2012 and it was then decided to sell VDSL packages, as alternative suppliers were allowed to sell respective products at the same prices. If the company had observed all the procedures from the very beginning, they wouldn't have wasted such a long time, and in six months the Commission's decision will be reviewed because VDSL should not stop. Instead, it should improve the service to all users, Kanellos added.

Regarding mergers on the market, where Forthnet are negotiating both with WIND and Hellasonline, if this merger happens, it will lead to a destabilisation of state telecommunications. According to Kanellos, however, the goal is to minimise regulation, leaving the question for intervention by the state open. As for Vodafone's accusations that COSMOTE has a dominant position in the mobile telephony sector and that this should be regulated, Kanellos characterised the issue as "sensitive", since the Commission is currently examining it and will later decide whether to take any measures.

When asked why in 2012 only one permit was issued for the placement of an antenna for mobile telephony, Kanellos replied that this was not true, since the Commission had issued 600 such permits. The Chairman of the regulatory body said that the Commission had done its job and the information about a 150 million euro investment loss did not correspond to reality. Investments are absorbed as normal, and the quick coming of 4G is due precisely to the Commission.

In connection with the European Commission's proposals for roaming exemption, which, according to the Pan-European Union for alternative supplies, supports former state monopolies, Kanellos noted that the Organisation of European Regulators for Electronic Communications is critical to the issue. The assumption of the Presidency of this international organisation by Greece will make Greek proposals difficult to ignore. Kanellos emphasised that regulators should discourage actions which, in the name of investment, would lead to a monopoly again. Each user should be able to choose their roaming supplier.

Tags: telecommunications Internet VDSL Leonidas Kanellos
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