International stakeholders challenge Danish government’s ill-informed document for EU proceeding on the future of broadband networks. 10 questions to the Climate Minister
Two weeks ago Strand Consult exposed the lack of process and public input in a document published by the Danish Parliament’s Climate, Energy and Utilities Committee on May 2. The Danish document asserted unevidenced claims about broadband, market consolidation, and radio spectrum. As a result of Strand Consult’s Fact Check, national and international policymakers contacted the Minister of Climate, Energy and Utilities Lars Aagaard to correct the record.
South Korea corrects the record in Denmark’s Parliament
The so-called Danish “Non-Paper” made gross misstatements about South Korea’s broadband policy, claiming that it conducted an experiment which led to the closing of cache servers and reduction in quality of internet service for end users. Korea Telecommunications Operations Association wrote to the Minister to clarify that there is no such experiment, no closure of servers, nor reduction in quality. It explained that South Korea is a market economy in which private actors negotiate the cost of networks. South Korea consistently rates as the world’s leading broadband nation in studies by the OECD and ITU.
10 Questions to the Minister on assertions which appear to violate Danish an EU law
Danish People’s Party Chairman Morten Messerschmidt also asked the Minister of Climate, Energy and Utilities Lars Aagaard on the lack of process and public input to commission document on future of broadband networks. He observed that many of KEF assertions would seem violate Danish law and policy, and possibly the EU.
Read an English translation below and access the official links in Danish.
- When the government writes in “Danish non-paper on the European Commission’s Public Consultation on the future of the electronic communications sector and its infrastructure”, referencing Climate, energy and Utilities Committee (KEF) – Appendix 264, that “Denmark sees a clear need for an open and transparent debate before initiating any proposals in this field”, can this be taken at face value? In other words, does the government intend to collect knowledge, compile economic key figures, information on data consumption and on which companies generate the most data traffic in the Danish telecommunications networks, and make this knowledge available to the public and initiate a dialogue with the various parties and stakeholders? https://www.ft.dk/samling/20222/almdel/KEF/spm/239/index.htm
- When the government writes in “Danish non-paper on the European Commission’s Public Consultation on the future of the electronic communications sector and its infrastructure”, KEF – Appendix 264, that “Denmark is skeptical in principle of measures intended to make large OTTs or other digital players contribute to the cost of the deployment of networks”, it should be taken at face value, and is this an indication that the government no longer sees a need for the Danish Business Authority to determine maximum price regulation for certain providers with significant market power, but that it can instead be left to the market to determine prices for access to data capacity and telecommunications infrastructure in Denmark? https://www.ft.dk/samling/20222/almdel/KEF/spm/240/index.htm
- The government writes in “Danish non-paper on the European Commission’s Public Consultation on the future of the electronic communications sector and its infrastructure”, KEF – Appendix 264, that it fears that this will lead to price increases for end users. How does the government view the wholesale price increases for access to fibre, which the Danish Business Authority itself initiated? We are talking about prices that were significantly above the prices that the market itself had agreed before the Danish Business Authority’s intervention. Can the government say how much these price increases were above the prices agreed by the market itself? https://www.ft.dk/samling/20222/almdel/KEF/spm/241/index.htm
- The Government writes in “Danish non-paper on the European Commission’s Public Consultation on the future of the electronic communications sector and its infrastructure”, KEF – Appendix 264, that “Denmark is skeptical in principle of measures intended to make large OTTs or other digital players contribute to the cost of the deployment of networks, and strongly opposes any form of mandatory contributions, including taxes or funds based on the traffic that end-users request from CAPs or other digital players.” Is it not true that the EU cannot collect taxes, so that a tax model can hardly be relevant? https://www.ft.dk/samling/20222/almdel/KEF/spm/242/index.htm
- The Government writes in “Danish non-paper on the European Commission’s Public Consultation on the future of the electronic communications sector and its infrastructure”, KEF – Appendix 264, that “In terms of the necessity of the measure, Denmark does not share the assumption that network operators are unable or unwilling to invest sufficient amounts in deployment. Rather than a lack of funds to invest, the issue is in many cases that some areas do not offer sufficiently attractive business cases to attract investment, i.e. the problem is the geographical distribution of investments. Any constraints on deployment in attractive areas currently seem to be capacity, e.g. in the civil works industry, rather than funding. The additional funding itself does not seem to be necessary.” If so, how would the government explain the EUR 300 billion investment gap estimated by the EU? https://www.ft.dk/samling/20222/almdel/KEF/spm/243/index.htm
- Is it the case that the increasing traffic in the telecommunications networks, which the Danish Agency for Data Supply and Infrastructure publishes together with their telecommunications statistics, affects the costs that telecommunications companies MUST build and operate their networks? Is the government aware of studies that have looked at how the growth of video traffic affects the costs associated with running a broadband network? https://www.ft.dk/samling/20222/almdel/KEF/spm/244/index.htm
- When the government does not see a need to introduce special measures against large content providers (large OTTs) or other digital players, does it indicate that the government does not see a risk that large content providers – such as the large streaming services – have achieved a market position where they can refuse to deliver without objective reason, can stop their deliveries or will only deliver on conditions, which is so unreasonable that it is equivalent to refusing delivery to a telecommunications company in Denmark with the consequence that this telecommunications company is effectively excluded from the market or its position on the market is significantly weakened (so-called refusal to supply in violation of the Danish Competition Act)? https://www.ft.dk/samling/20222/almdel/KEF/spm/245/index.htm
- Can the government already deny on the current basis that large content providers – such as the large streaming services – have not achieved a market position that entails a risk of abuse of a dominant position in violation of Danish competition law? https://www.ft.dk/samling/20222/almdel/KEF/spm/246/index.htm
- How will the government ensure that large content providers – such as the large streaming services – not abuse a dominant position in violation of Danish competition law? https://www.ft.dk/samling/20222/almdel/KEF/spm/247/index.htm
- When the government writes in “Danish non-paper on the European Commission’s Public Consultation on the future of the electronic communications sector and its infrastructure”, KEF – Appendix 264, that measures aimed at the large content providers (large OTTs), “deviate from the principle of net neutrality”, there is no further explanation as to why such possible measures which the European Commission should propose will deviate from the EU Net Neutrality Regulation? Does the government see a risk that the European Commission could propose regulation that conflicts with existing EU regulation? https://www.ft.dk/samling/20222/almdel/KEF/spm/248/index.htm
Denmark’s public sector professionals can do better than to appropriate corporate advocacy for Parliamentary policy positions.
Denmark is recognized for the quality of its public sector employees who are competent, well-compensated, and comprise a significant part of Denmark’s labor force. An EU reports explains, “This is connected to the political priority of a visible welfare state that cares for its citizens.” However, the Minister and the staff of the Climate, Energy and Utilities Committee (KEF) fell short in this case. It is expected that KEF publishes factual information; instead, they published non-facts. They should perform independent assessments, or at least verify and reference the views they support; they did not in the case. Finally, if they are to make an official government position, they need to conduct the proper process which collects input from the Danish people; they did not. Strand Consult’s transparency request confirmed that KEF used corporate advocacy reports, notably those funded by US platform technology companies, to develop their paper.
Strand Consult is an independent provider of research and analysis in the fields of mobile telecommunications, information technology, and public policy. An important part of its work is to create transparency and conduct fact checks on policy information. Strand Consult established the Global Project for Broadband Cost Recovery to collect, analyze, and share the policy research to close the digital divide and develop sustainable business models for broadband.
Policy and regulation must be based on facts and evidence, not myths. Strand Consult’s report “Debunking the 25 Myths of Fair Share” helps readers wade through the swamp of misinformation and misunderstanding on the topic. It highlights how interested parties purposely derail the debate. Moreover, it provides policy context so that readers can come to their own conclusions. Buy the report.