In Brief:EC unveils telecom reforms to boost broadband access 

The European Commission has presented its proposals for reforming telecom regulation, aimed at increasing access to very high-speed broadband. In addition to new regulations designed to encourage investment in broadband networks, the Commission presented plans for stimulating public investment in Wi-Fi services, accelerating the introduction of 5G mobile services and extending some rules to online services in order to enhance consumer protection.

***Axiata confirmed it is exploring whether to reduce its stakes in some overseas businesses in order to reduce debt."Since the middle of last year, Axiata has been exploring options to further optimise its balance sheet and group structure, potentially including, but not limited to, the portfolio rebalancing and review of shareholding across subsidiaries," the Malaysia-based telco said.The comment was in response to a report which claimed that Axiata plans to cut its stakes in various subsidiaries in deals that could raise up to US$700 million (€623.4 million). Axiata is looking to sell approximately 11% of its Indonesian arm XL Axiata, as well as up to 30% of its Sri Lankan business Dialog Axiata, and 30% of its Smart Axiata operation in Cambodia.

***The Malta Communications Authority (MCA) has called for expressions of interest in 60MHz of spectrum in the 800MHz ‘digital dividend’ band (791MHz-821MHz paired with 832MHz-862MHz). The regulator has received a formal request from a licensed service provider to utilise the band, and is now looking to see if there is further demand for the spectrum, which can be used for 4G mobile broadband services. Malta’s mobile market is home to three network operators – Vodafone, GO and Melita – plus a handful of resellers. Vodafone and GO have already introduced 4G LTE technology using 1800MHz and 2600MHz frequencies, while Melita has still to announce plans for a commercial 4G launch.

***A Russian government special committee has prepared a roadmap for increasing the deployment of Russian-produced equipment by telecoms network operators, replacing foreign-manufactured components. Telecompaper citing an RBC.ru article says that according to the roadmap, Russian operators will have until 2020 to ensure that 85% of the equipment they use is produced in Russia.