Telecom in Western Europe: problems or progress?

23 June 2003 Cedar Knolls, NJ Lightwave--Western Europe closely mirrors North America as a market of major interest to the international telecom service provider and equipment supply communities. However, analyst firm Probe Group suggests there is concern about the economy's impact on carriers and suppliers.

23 June 2003 Cedar Knolls, NJ Lightwave--Western Europe closely mirrors North America as a market of major interest to the international telecom service provider and equipment supply communities. However, analyst firm Probe Group suggests there is concern about the economy's impact on carriers and suppliers.

"Economists disagree whether Western Europe is in a recovery mode or recession," stated Probe analyst Frank Barbetta. "Some upward trends appeared to take shape on a selective national or vertical sector basis in late 2002. Positive thinkers suggest potential growth could start region-wide through 2003 and 2004, albeit possibly in a somewhat timid or tepid fashion."

Barbetta reports that a central issue in recent times has involved European Union resistance to any special rules or considerations such as financial aid for balance sheet troubled national incumbent carriers. In addition, both retail and wholesale telecom continue to exhibit price sensitivity, with the transfer of network assets at low cost and the emergence of debt-free companies out of bankruptcies posing additional factors for speculation in both market camps.

"Limitations on pan-European network expenses, curbing of planned geographical reach within the region and retrenchments have been the focus of management thinking at both incumbents and competitive operators," stated Barbetta.

Increasingly, many observers believe that more substantial consolidation is needed for Europe's carriers to be more comfortable with their circumstances.

In its latest Global Carriers report, "Western Europe," Probe discusses West European economic conditions, the European Union's perspective, telecom carriage markets, the current status of competition, and global and U.S. carriers in Western Europe. The report includes statistics on U.S. service provider business to Western Europe and an area profile of Nordic-Scandinavian carriers.

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