Monday, 11 August 2014

Hanging On The Telephone

Given that this blog has been a bit quiet of late, for which I apologise, it is of some irony that blog silence is broken by a piece about communication devices - notably telephones. Part of our radio silence has been the result of continuing frustration to the point of despair at trying to keep disputing the relentless repetitive media and blogging nonsense which fails to acknowledge the presence of the EU or accurately describe its actions - there are only so many times we can keep banging our head against a brick wall.

The other is, as a former PBX programmer, time has been taken up by researching competences of the EU regarding telecommunications with a view to the UK leaving the EU. In particular a referendum on the EU will need to reassure voters that exit will not result in major disruption with mobile phones when traveling across Europe or phoning from the UK. On this subject we will return to soon in detail.

Strangely both of these sentiments have been partly encapsulated by Owen Jones' article in the Guardian regarding mobile phones and, in his view, the need to nationalise them:
It may sound like off-the-wall leftiness, but there are clear and convincing arguments for a nationalised mobile phone network.
Owen Jones' always seems to be of the ilk of; "if we can see it, nationalise it". However despite the arguments for and against nationalising the mobile phone network, what the silly little boy doesn't seem to realise is it is not possible while we remain members of the European Union. Strange we might think when we note that EU competence over mobile phones was laid bare by his own newspaper a month ago:
The cost of using your smartphone to surf the internet while you travel in Europe will be halved as the EU introduces a new cap on roaming charges.

From 1 July the chance of suffering "bill shock" when you return from a break in more than 40 countries has been reduced, after European leaders slashed the amount that mobile phone operators can charge for data downloads, and also made big cuts to the caps on texts and phone calls.
And this is no surprise given that telecommunications has been a competence since the Maastricht Treaty (Article 129 b, page 31, my emphasis):
1. To help achieve the objectives referred to in Articles 7a and 130a and to enable citizens of the Union, economic operators and regional and local communities to derive full benefit from the setting up of an area without internal frontiers, the Community shall contribute to the establishment and development of trans-European networks in the areas of transport, telecommunications and energy infrastructures.
Consequences which as an example resulted in this. And how the EU views competition within the telecommunications sector can be found with great clarity when the European Commission reviews mergers between rival mobile phone operators. In September 2013, the European Commission cleared Vodafone’s acquisition of Kabel Deutschland, the German cable operator (my emphasis):
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Kabel Deutschland Holding AG, a German cable operator, by Vodafone Group Plc. of the United Kingdom.

The Commission's investigation confirmed that the activities of the merging parties were mainly complementary. While Kabel Deutschland primarily offers cable TV, fixed line telephony and Internet access services, Vodafone's core business consists of mobile telephony services.

To a certain extent, it also offers fixed line telephony and Internet access, as well as IPTV. The Commission found that in markets where the parties' activities overlap, the increase in market share resulting from the proposed transaction is insignificant and will therefore not appreciably alter competition. 
And in April 2013 the European Commission reviewed Liberty Global’s acquisition of UK cable operator Virgin Media concluding (my emphasis):
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of UK cable operator Virgin Media Inc., registered in the US, by the US-based company Liberty Global, Inc.

The transaction, with a value of €17.2 billion, would bring together the second largest Pay TV operator in the UK (Virgin Media) and the largest cable operator in Europe (Liberty Global).  

The Commission's investigation confirmed that the transaction would not raise competition concerns, in particular because the parties operate cable networks in different Member States and because of the merged entity's limited market position in the wholesale of TV channels in the UK and Ireland.
And in contrast in 2012, the European Commission fined Telefónica and Portugal Telecom €79 million when a provision represented an agreement not to compete with each other in their respective home markets of Spain and Portugal.

One wonders therefore why he is so reluctant in the Guardian to mention the EU aspect particularly when he has acknowledged the "free competition" EU consequences of membership elsewhere.

I guess you take your money...


  1. I can see it now.
    The plebs voting to remain in the glutinous clutches of the eu so that they can still use their mobile phones when on holiday in Ibiza or Benidorm.
    "I got to be able to use my phone innit".

  2. Owen Jones reminds me of myself when an ignorant, arrogant, left-wing teenager. But I grew up.

  3. Stopping us using our mobile phones would be bad for tourism and business,