Firm regulation of the fixed line telecoms network continues to be necessary in order to promote and protect competition. Whether it is basic voice services, or new data based ones such as internet access, regulation is needed to allow companies to compete fairly in the market place and police anti-competitive behaviour. And competition is essential to give consumers the greatest possible choice, innovative services and put downward pressure on prices.
Competition in the telecoms market does not happen by itself. Firm regulatory intervention is necessary, whether to help companies to enter a market and compete or to take action against anti-competitive behaviour. Oftel supported the development of competition in voice services by introducing cost based interconnection with British Telecom (BT) s network for competing operators.
More recently, we have taken action to support competition in the new electronic communications, resulting in some of the lowest prices for dial up internet access in Europe, and broadband connection rates of 30,000 a week.
Where markets are competitive, Oftel will always seek to withdraw regulation that is no longer necessary. In the future, convergence and spectrum trading will offer increased network competition, with the potential to reduce regulation.
Every company puts its own commercial interests above everything else. For Oftel, considering what is in the best long-term interests of consumers is paramount when deciding the need for regulatory action.
The bottom line for us is how will consumers benefit from our decision, because that is the best way to measure the effectiveness of regulation. Consumers now have a huge range of choice of service providers, and some of the lowest prices in Europe for their telecoms services.
As markets have developed through competition, Oftel has adapted regulation to meet changing circumstances. From a market that started as a virtual monopoly, through regulatory action Oftel has introduced competition at all levels of the telecoms supply chain.
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