EU sees hurdles to cable biz expansion

Regulators investigating France Telecom for antitrust

BRUSSELS — European Union regulators have warned France to comply with cable laws or face legal action in the European Court of Justice in two months.

Brussels is alleging that French rules make it harder for cable operators to launch telephony and Net services, weakening their position against former phone monopoly France Telecom.

Cable companies have less than 0.2% of the telephony market in France, less than 15% of the broadband Web market and less than 4% of the overall Internet market.

Under Gallic law, cablers must get approval from all relevant local authorities before they are allowed to offer telephone services. This slows down the process and can often lead to no service being launched.

Open field

According to EU rules, all companies, whether cable, telco or satellite, are meant to be able to provide services on a level playing field throughout Europe to make it easier for companies to enter markets and encourage greater competition.

EU regulators are already investigating whether France Telecom and its Internet service provider Wanadooo have broken European antitrust laws.

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