A New Chance to Organize the E.U. Telecommunications Industry

Imagine that the U.S. market for telecommunications was carved up by 200 operators owned by 45 rival companies, each able to sell phone and broadband Internet service only in individual states or, at best, small regions.Consumers could face arbitrarily high costs just to call a neighboring state or town. Businesses wanting to sell service nationally through mergers or network-sharing arrangements could be impeded by a patchwork of conflicting market rules.That, with a few exceptions, is the status quo in the European Union, a trading bloc of 500 million consumers and 27 countries whose fragmented legal systems and competing national agendas have largely thwarted a single Continental market in telecommunications.

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