In Europe, the prerequisite unbundling of the copper loop is proceeding slowly, and piecemeal, country by country. The push for unbundling is being driven by the European Commission, but the national regulators and their local incumbents are complying slowly. Most incumbents have a strong incentive to walk backwards slowly. What you have to have is regulatory authorities committed to driving the pace of change. New EU legislation is now aimed at imposing harmonized timetables across the region. Further directives which would give the Commission greater powers to enforce these laws are currently also being considered by the European Parliament.
Germany is the furthest advanced of the large countries, with several competitive, nationwide DSL deployments (such as Firstmark) currently being built. But even in Germany, which initiated the process two years ago, and strides ahead of the rest of the continent in terms of local loop competition, only 1.94% of total lines have DSL equipment. In the other countries surveyed, the number is under 1%.
Pan-European deployment is even more cumbersome. Potential DSL CLECs have to negotiate separately with each incumbent and national regulator, each following different agendas. This combines with the slow pace of rollout, makes marketing very difficult for the new entrant.
Industry pressure group ECTA (the European Competitive Telecommunications Association) has compiled an ‘unbundling scorecard’ which rates 14 EU countries (excluding Luxembourg) according to their progress in opening up exchanges and deploying DSL.
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