January 3, 2008 / 11:06 AM / 10 years ago

EU urges Belgium to open up broadband fast

BRUSSELS, Jan 3 (Reuters) - The European Commission warned Belgium on Thursday to quickly implement plans to boost competition in its broadband market or face possible court action.

The EU executive backed plans by the Belgian regulator to force leading operator Belgacom BCOM.BR to give new market entrants fair access to its local network to provide broadband services.

“I welcome this long-awaited proposal by the Belgian regulator to enhance broadband competition in the Belgian market,” EU telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding said.

“Effective and speedy enforcement of existing regulatory measures is crucial for more competition and better services,” she said in a statement, noting that Belgian consumers continued to pay “rather high prices” for broadband services.

A Commission official said the EU executive would closely watch how the measures are implemented, adding Belgium would only avoid an infringement procedure — which can eventually lead to court action — if it is done fully and quickly.

“The infringement procedure is still pending on Belgium on this,” the official said. (Reporting by Ingrid Melander, editing by Mark John and Will Waterman)

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