Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Mobile Terminating Access tariffs to go to 1 cent in 2012

08-05-2007 The presentations of the Encore workshop are available. They all argue forcibly in favor of diminishing or abolishing MTA-tariffs. For those of you who want to know about Peering and Transit as the alternative model, see my draft explanation.

Reuters last week reported that the EU will dramatically cut Mobile Terminating Access to a level of 1-2 cent per minute. " "The logic of the recommendation would be that by 2012 the incentive for keeping fixed termination rates and mobile termination rates would go," the Commission official said." I had missed this, but today this was confirmed at a workshop organised by Encore in The Hague. An official working for one of the EU regulators said 1-1.5 cents would be the goal of the Commission.

There is a great deal of logic behind this number. Currently the termination rates vary from 2 cents in Cyprus to 16 cents in Italy. Many countries are now forcing rates down to about 6 or 6 cents. Which is still well above cost according to ARCEP who are of the opinion that current costs are 3-4 cents and 2.5 cents is what their models predict the cost will be in 2010. So cost can come down dramatically without dropping below costs in the current Long Range Incremental Costs models.

The Commission wants to be forceful and will therefore not shy away from a statement. It cannot state a number that regulators already envisage. The start for the Commission will be the current MTA-tariff of Cyprus. It will not follow the gradual glidepaths of regulators. It doesn't want 2.5 cents by 2020, but it will want it next year or the year after. Bij 2012 this will need to be at 1 cent, as this is where mobile to fixed and fixed-fixed MTA-tariffs are at. Anything higher is not a proper statement.

The Commission can do this because there is no proper controlling force of the Commission. A recommendation will work as a regulation in the work of most regulators. If the regulator comes to the Commission with a higher MTA-tariff, the Commission will refer to its recommendation and the MTA-tariff of 2.5 cents. It will then start the serious doubts procedure, causing all sorts of political trouble for the national regulator while making the Commission look all harmonizing and consumerfriendly. So this is a lose-lose situation for the national regulator.

The Commission may have won part of the roaming battle, but it didn't succeed fully, because it wanted a directive and therefore had to agree to some changes in order to get the support from Vodafone.... I mean the UK. By doing a Recommendation the Commission may save itself the trouble of listening to the operators (countries) protest in all kinds of EU Council meetings. The Commission will look benign and any regulator not following the guidelines will look incompetent.

I don't belief the Commission will force Bill and Keep on the market. It will hope that by bringing the MTA-tariff's to the same level as fixed-fixed the market itself will choose to abolish MTA's all together.

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