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Brussels, 18 July 2005

International calls in Finland competitive: no new rules needed, confirms Commission

The European Commission has today published a decision under Article 7 of the EU framework on electronic communications endorsing the findings of the Finnish national regulatory authority (Ficora) that the international calls markets in Finland are effectively competitive. International calls markets include all fixed telephone calls made from home by residential users and from the office by business users, to both fixed and mobile telephones outside the country. As a result of today’s Commission decision, Ficora will not have to impose any ex-ante regulation on these markets in Finland.

“I am delighted with the outcome of this case. By working closely with the Commission, the Finnish regulator has now provided a careful and studied analysis proving that the Finnish international calls markets for residential and business users are effectively competitive. I am confident that this case will give market players legal certainty and the confidence to make further investments to provide more services and greater choice to consumers”, said Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding.

In the past months, the Finnish national telecom regulator (Ficora) had conducted a fresh analysis of this market. This followed the Commission’s veto decision of 20 February 2004 on Ficora’s earlier findings, notified to the Commission at the end of 2003. At the time, the Commission required Ficora to withdraw the proposed measures as it found the market analysis not to be sufficiently rigorous. The Commission indicated that Ficora should not have taken into account the existing carrier selection and preselection regulation already in place in Finland when analysing the extent of competition on the international calls markets. Furthermore, the evidence provided by Ficora in 2003 was not sufficient to support its findings and thus for the Commission to endorse its conclusions.

Ficora’s new notification addressed all the concerns raised by the Commission in its previous decision. The analysis now provides the necessary data demonstrating that there is effective competition on these markets and that ex-ante regulation is not necessary. Ficora’s new analysis provides recent market data, such as

  • the constant decrease in market shares of the leading market player TeliaSonera Finland Oyj (came down to 35% and 33% in the residential and non-residential international calls markets respectively),
  • positive price evolutions
  • real opportunities for end-users to select different operators to make their calls.

The Finnish market development contrasts positively to other markets in the EU where, in general, the incumbents’ average market share on the international calls markets remains relatively high with 59,9% (EU15)[1]. So far, the Austrian and Swedish regulatory authorities could conclude that their respective international calls markets for residential users are effectively competitive and therefore need no new rules. The international calls market for business users instead, was considered to be partially competitive in the UK, effectively competitive in Sweden and still requiring regulation in Austria, Hungary, Ireland and Portugal.
Further information:
On the Article 7-procedure: MEMO/05/255.

[1] December 2003. See « European electronic communications regulation and markets 2004”, 10th implementation report.

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