Six EU States Ignore Key Telecom Rules

BRUSSELS (03/29/2000) - The European Commission has opened formal infringement proceedings against six countries for failing to implement a key telecom directive on numbering, Per Haugaard, the Commission spokesman for telecommunications, announced today.

"We are vigorously pursuing our objectives to introduce real competition into the telecom market," Haugaard said in announcing the infringements that target Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria and Finland.

The member states have one month to reply to the Commission's concerns. The directive approved in 1998 by the European Union set January 2000 as the deadline for member states to introduce number portability and carrier preselection, which are still unavailable in these countries.

Lack of these services represents serious obstacles to new entrants winning customers over from the former incumbents, according to a Commission statement.

Number portability allows a consumer to keep the same telephone number when he or she changes operator. Carrier preselection enables subscribers to use telecom operators other than the former incumbents to access the host of services, without the need to dial a prefix.

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