Convergence and Economic Analysis Expert Working Group

Giving access to Special Rate Services (SRS) is considered an important topic for BEREC for 2012. Such providers of shared cost, DQ-services, premium rate or freephone number services as well as some premium SMS service providers often pay an origination fee to the operator of the originating network from which the user calls the information service. Sometimes these origination fees seem excessively high compared to the cost. This seems especially the case for the wholesale fee for mobile originating traffic that is destined to freephone numbers/services. For this kind of service, voice or SMS origination seems to have similar features to voice or SMS termination in the sense that there is no alternative for the provider of the information service.

Besides SRS services, the issue of co-investment for the deployment of the new NGA networks gains importance. The NGA recommendation detailed possible guidelines to determine whether NRAs could assume effective competition in markets 4 and 5 when joint deployment of fibre-based networks by several co-investors occurs. According to the NGA recommendation it is now the task of the NRAs to provide regulatory certainty and predictability to their national markets, consistently to the general objective of encouraging efficient investment.

Fixed-mobile convergence and its impact on substitutability patterns have been analysed by BEREC in 2009 and 2010. This trend has become more important both in fixed telephone services and broadband Internet access. Some NRAs are issuing surveys at national level to determine whether from the consumer prospective both services could be regarded as substitutes. Therefore, BEREC is engaged in further investigations into fixed-mobile substitution.

In responding the BEREC 2010 Net Neutrality consultation, stakeholders referred to identification and economic assessment of traffic management rules as the major issue regarding net neutrality. Prioritisation implicitly has the consequence of discrimination, but a number of aspects should be taken into account to evaluate negative consequences for the level of competition, innovation and the interests of end users. In 2011, BEREC initiated an economic analysis of the potential and theoretical effects of discriminatory behaviour.