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May 27, 1994


By CBR Staff Writer

The heads of Europe’s leading electronics companies are frustrated at the foot-dragging by state-owned dinosaur phone companies on telecommunications liberalisation, and were yesterday pushing the European Union to set precise targets for speeding up the liberalisation of telecommunications markets, Reuter reports from Brussels. The companies – Siemens AG, ICL Plc, Philips Electronics NV, IBM Europe and Compagnie des Machines Bull SA, members of the Bangemann group on information highways, say they were disappointed by the tone of a draft report that was prepared to reflect the group’s views. We definitely think the report is missing some really clear messages, particularly a clear road map of what action has to be taken, what obstacles have to be removed, one said. The 19-member group of industry executives was asked to propose a strategy for developing pan-European computer and telecommunications networks as part of the Union’s efforts to attack galloping Euroscelrosis. Its report will be presented to the European Council in Corfu next month. The draft report, which was made available to Reuters, proposes no specific timetable beyond the Union’s existing target of opening up telephone service to competition by 1988. It’s pure status quo, said one of the industry sources.The companies are especially interested in getting a clear commitment to liberalising telecommunications infrastructure, another source said. The contested draft was prepared by Bangemann and two members of the group, Carlo De Benedetti, chairman of Ing C Olivetti and Co SpA, and Etienne Davignon, chairman of Societe Generale de Belgique. It was expected to be amended during yesterday’s meeting. The text currently calls for a single European telecommunications regulatory framework, an urgent review of standardisation policy for information technologies, Europe-wide rules on media ownership and a European legal framework for the development of encryption systems that limit services to paying customers. It also proposes action to promote new applications in nine areas, including road traffic management, links between national administrations, health care networks and air traffic control. It sets ambitious targets for private industry and public authorities in each area, such as computerised road traffic management systems in 10 metropolitan areas and 1,250 miles of motorways by 1996.

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