Friday, 28 May 2010

How silly can it get? Consumers facing telecoms markets in EU

After presenting the Digital Agenda for Europe, first reactions to the Digital Agenda and the EU progress report on the single European electronic communications market at a general level, now for a concrete example of how 27 fragmented national telecoms markets affect businesses, consumers and public affairs in real life in the European Union.

The conclusion is: How silly can it get?

One of the most prolific eurobloggers is Henrik Alexandersson, who works in the European Parliament for the Pirate MEP Christian Engström (Green group).

Alexandersson’s usual place of work is the EP in Brussels, Belgium. Naturally, he travels back to Sweden at times. Like the rest of the MEPs and staff, he has to take part in the monthly migration of the European Parliament to Strasbourg, France.

In his blog post (in Swedish) Hej, jag heter Henrik. Jag är datormissbrukare (roughly: Hello, I’m Henrik. I’m a dataholic; 27 May 2010), Alexandersson starts by wondering at the primitive standards and proprietary software hampering PCs in the EP offices.

Then follows a tragicomic description of the multiple notebooks and wireless dongles forced on Alexandersson by fragmented telecoms markets and incompatible software, plus the horrendous costs of data roaming.

For those who believe that the “common market” was instituted in 1957, the post is illuminating.

If you want to get a sense of the original text, Google translate provided an almost comprehensible version in English. (Ångdator can be understood as “steam age PC”).

Neelie Kroes and her merry men have a real challenge ahead of them, if they want Europe to advance from the Egypt of the steam engine era to the promised land of the information society.

Ralf Grahn