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March 27, 1996

EC RULES OUT MULTIMEDIA ACCESS REQUIREMENT

By CBR Staff Writer

The European Commission is in process of approving Competition Commissioner Martin Bangemann’s proposal on how to ensure universal service after the European Community’s 1998 liberalization of the telecommunications market. The Commissioner defines the services that should be protected as basic telephony; operator assistance; access to emergency services; directory enquiries and pay phones. The Community had considered widening the number of services covered by the Universal Service provision to include next-generation services, such as multimedia, but concluded that it should be restricted to basic telephony after consultation with carriers, equipment manufacturers and other interested parties. The reasoning given was that it was much more important to ensure access to basic services for all while the transition to a liberalized market is made, although the Community has committed itself to reviewing the definition sometime in the future.

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