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Competition Policy

Sector inquiry into leased lines


Leased lines are short distance communications links that incumbent telecommunications companies rent to other network operators. These short distance circuits constitute essential building blocks for the internal communications networks of European businesses. Leased lines are increasingly used also by small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to have a permanent high speed access to the Internet. The sector of leased lines, data networks and business communications is increasingly important in particular with the emergence of e-commerce.

The 1998 full liberalisation of the EU telecommunications infrastructure and services brought about the expectation of an imminent fully competitive European telecommunications sector, characterised by numerous telecommunications suppliers of both infrastructure and services, greater choice for users, lower prices and better quality of services across the EU.

One year later, in 1999, there was a series of informal complaints to the Commission, relating to cases of limited or unfavourable conditions of access to networks and services. The sector has allegedly revealed lack of competition in some particular market segments, including, amongst others, the leased lines market.

On 27 July 1999 the Commission decided to open an inquiry relating, among other things, to the provision and pricing of leased lines in the fifteen Member States. For the purpose of the leased line investigation, at the end of October 1999 the Commission sent extensive questionnaires to incumbent operators in the Member States, new entrants in EU markets, large business users of leased lines in different economic sectors and the competition and regulatory authorities in the Member States.

In September 2000, the Commission held a public hearing to discuss the preliminary findings of the inquiry and the ways to take the inquiry forward.

The inquiry was closed in December 2002 due to the strong drop in prices since the inquiry's launch.

The headings below are listed in reverse chronological order.


Closing of the enquiry

Date: December 2002

Press release: Price decreases of up to 40% lead Commission to close telecom leased line inquiry. IP/02/1852, 11.12.2002

Commission response to concerns expressed by pan-European operators and users' groups on the provision of leased lines


Public hearing

Date: 22 September 2000, Brussels

Press release: The prices of telecoms leased lines are still an obstacle to the creation of e-Europe
IP/00/1043, 22.09.2000

Opening speeches

"Increasing competition in leased lines the benefits for Europe's businesses and consumers"
Mr Mario Monti, Commissioner for Competition Policy. Speech

"L’application des règles de concurrence à l'offre de lignes de télécommunications
louées dans la Communauté européenne". Mr Jean-François Pons – Deputy Director-General, European Commission, DG Competition. Speech 

Presentations and speeches by speakers

Please note that the opinions put forward in these documents are the personal views of their authors. They have not been adopted or in any way approved by the Commission, and should not be relied upon as statements of the Commission's or DG Competition's views.

  • "Key findings of the sector inquiry: a summary" Peter Alexiadis, Squire, Sanders&Dempsey L.L.P., Brussels. Presentation slides
  • "Strategic Discounting and Non Pricing Abuses”. Giovanni Calabro, Italian Competition Authority. Speaking notes
  • "The elements of "cost" for leased lines". Dermot Glynn, Europe Economics, UK. Speaking notes  Presentation slides
  • "Competition abuses: excessive pricing". Bruno Jullien, IDEI, University of Toulouse, France Speaking notes  Presentation slides
  • "National leased lines in the UK". Christopher Kenny, OFTEL, UK Presentation slides
  • "Sector-specific regulation on the provision of leased lines". Fernando Nino-Page, DG INFSO Presentation slides
  • "Maintaining the Competitiveness of European Business: The Role of Leased Line Pricing and Availability". Phil Sayer, INTUG Europe/Reuters Speaking Notes  Presentation Slides
  • "Comparability issues in leased lines benchmarking". Mark Scanlan, WIK, Germany Presentation Slides
  • "Defining Relevant Markets for Leased Lines: the Interface with Local Loop Unbundling". Professor Howard Williams, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow Speaking Notes 


Initial results

Date: 8 September 2000

Working Document on the Initial Results  of the Leased Lines Sector Inquiry


Opening of the inquiry

Date: 22 October 1999

Press release "Commission launches first phase of sectoral inquiry into telecommunications : leased line tariffs" IP/99/786, 22.10.1999

Indicative Target Dates 

Requests for information:

Press release: "Leased lines: Commission acts to bring down cost of communications in Europe". IP/99/873, 24.11.1999