Telecoms Reform Package

The EU regulatory framework for electronic communication was, for a long time, not kept up to date with the ever-progressing Internet and digital age. As a result, in 2009, the EU passed the Telecom Reforms Package to address several issues that had been brought to light. The reform hoped to strengthen competition and consumer rights and to facilitate high-speed Internet broadband connections.

A new European Telecoms Body called the BEREC or Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications was created to ensure fair competition within the EU with respect to the telecom market. BEREC is comprised of the heads of the 27 national regulatory authorities. This has helped to strengthen the independence of these national regulatory authorities that have, in the passed, been influenced by national politics.

The new legislation enables each country to set minimal acceptable levels of network transmission services (broadband service), and indirectly enforce the concept of net neutrality. It also hopes to increase new wireless network technologies by allowing the 900 and 1800 MHz bands to be used for new 3G and 4G wireless networks. This initiative aims to increase competition and provide a method to roll out high-speed EU-wide wireless Internet services. Additionally, this will help to provide broadband Internet to rural areas where fiber networks don't make sense economically.

One of the most highly debated sections of the reforms package was section that determined the degree Internet access should be protected by EU law, specifically the "procedural and judicial safeguards" that would exist for users. While the wording of the "adequate procedural safeguards" in the text didn't specifically require court involvement, they do require that any three-strike measure, like the law instituted in France and UK, to presume innocence, the right to privacy, the right to due process and the right to judicial review. However, while judicial review is now provided, it still means that users could lose Internet without a court order specifying exactly that. While it isn't exactly what opponents had hoped for, it does provide some measures to ensure that judicial review is part of any three-strike policy in the EU.

The reform also moves to provide greater protection of personal data. While the reform simply reiterates the need to inform customers of data security breaches, new rules will also be instigated that inform users about the use of cookies for commercial use.