EU’s Breton urges rethink on cross-border telecoms mergers

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The EU’s antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager, has been reluctant to allow telecoms providers to acquire EU partners without major remedies, especially when the deals reduce the number of players from four to three, and highlights concerns about the market power of fewer but larger telecom operators.

The telecoms industry however said consolidation is needed to pool resources to roll out costly high-speed broadband and 5G.

“I believe that the creation of a true single market for telecommunications services also requires reflection on the encouragement of cross-border consolidation, all while preserving fair and necessary competition for the benefit of our consumers,” said Breton in ‘a speech to be made at an event in Helsinki.

On the question of whether Google, Meta, Inc, Netflix Inc, Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Microsoft Corp should bear some network costs, Breton said the European Commission will launch a consultation this month. on the subject.

“The investments that will be necessary to achieve our ambitions will be enormous and we must ensure that they are matched with the availability of sufficient funding. The burden of this funding should not be solely on the shoulders of the states members or the EU budget. ,” he said.

“At a time when technology companies are using up most of the bandwidth and telco operators are seeing their return on investment diminish, this also raises the question of who pays for the next generation of connectivity infrastructure,” said Breton.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Philip Blenkinsop)

By Foo Yun Chee

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