Telekom Austria Group CEO Hannes Ametsreiter on Wednesday lent his support to EU digital agenda chief Neelie Kroes, but called for greater cohesion between the myriad departments within the European Commission.
Kroes in July unveiled a number of proposals aimed at fostering investment in, and expansion of, broadband networks. At the time, telcos welcomed her pledge not to impose incremental caps on wholesale copper access fees, and her acknowledgement that connection speed targets can be met with technologies other than fibre.
"Kroes is setting the right agenda," said Ametsreiter.
Speaking to Total Telecom on the sidelines of Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam, he said Europe is poised to regain its leadership position in the global telecoms industry, but warned that it will require the "strength and commitment of every institution, company and individual involved".
Ametsreiter echoed the sentiments of KPN chief Eelco Blok, who on Tuesday talked about the need for scale if Europe's telecom operators ever hope to make the continent competitive with the U.S., China, and developed Asian economies. In particular, he noted that around 150 mobile operators serve the European market, compared to seven in the U.S., and just three in China.
"All operators together with the European Commission need to think about the future," Ametsreiter said. "If we want the best infrastructure we need strong companies that can make the heavy investments in the best infrastructure.
"There has not been enough investment at the moment, and the investment case is still not good enough," he said.
Right now, Telekom Austria's home market is the unofficial epicentre of the conflict between operators trying to scale their businesses via consolidation, and regulators trying to safeguard competition and low prices.
EU competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia has raised objections to Hutchison 3G Austria's plan to acquire local rival Orange Austria for €1.3 billion, claiming that the ensuing reduction from four to three MNOs could result in users paying higher prices.
Hutchison has offered a number of remedies, including favourable MVNO terms, and selling some of Orange's spectrum, base stations and its Yesss! operations to Telekom Austria.
Ametsreiter declined to comment on the issue, but stated that Austria's mobile