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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Swedish (Regulatory) Scene
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STOCKHOLM--I met today with Ms. Karoline Bostrom, Head of the Division of Information Technology, Research and Development, of the Swedish Ministry of Industry, and two members of her staff. The meeting was facilitated by Tim Finton of the US Department of State's Communications and Information Policy section and Gunilla LaRoche of the United States Embassy in Stockholm. We had a very productive meeting exchanging views on Swedish and US telecom policy.

Some impressions:

--Unlike many other EU countries, Sweden swiftly passed a national law conforming, in theory, to the 2002 EU Directive on a common regulatory framework for electronic communications services. The Swedish law, which like the EU Directive, is meant to be technology neutral, as a practical matter still provokes technology-centric decisionmaking. This comes through in discussions regarding most regulatory issues, including the regulation of VoIP.

--Consistent with what I reported yesterday, the Swedish position seems to be that many regulatory requirements will need to attach to the incumbent for a long time because the incumbent naturally possesses "significant market power", the EU term of art. This is especially true with respect to mandates giving the "independents" access to the incumbent's facilities.

--The decisions of the PTS, the communications regulatory board (10 members!), were portrayed by the Swedish officials as being relatively "non-political" in nature, based more on what they called the "technical" merits of the issue. Putting aside the question of whethr "political" or non is in the eye of the beholder, can you imagine an FCC with 10 members? Twice the fun for perhaps twice the price!

posted by Randolph May @ 2:06 AM |

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