Dear Chairpersons and NRA's representatives,
Dear CEOs and representatives from telecom and digital companies,
Dear members of the BEREC's Office,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for being with us today for the 4th edition of the BEREC Stakeholder Forum Meeting.
Before unveiling BEREC¡¦s 2017 work programme, if you don¡¦t mind, I would like to briefly look back on our common history. Where we come from and where we are.
After almost twenty years of regulation, Europe has achieved what I consider to be our greatest strength: competition. All over Europe, operators are competing against each other to provide Europeans with networks and services matching their current and future needs. This is quite unique.
Nowadays, we can confidently claim that the opening of the telecom market to competition was in most cases a success.
We, stakeholders and public authorities can be proud, as we all worked together to build a stronger telecom market.
And I would like to highlight the BEREC¡¦s contribution to this success. Making national experts work together, people concretely involved in day to day regulation, allowed us to become more efficient by sharing best practices and defining common approaches on major issues, such as Net Neutrality.
But this is not the end of the story and new challenges appear.
As the European Institutions are setting new political objectives for the telecom sector, I strongly believe that, more than ever, national regulators and BEREC can help Europe to face these new challenges.
We can be part of the solution.
Actually, with its 2017 work programme, BEREC is already committed to work on carrying out the top priorities identified by the European institutions for the telecom market.
Let me tell you how.
First European challenge: connectivity
As the proverb says, ¡§The person who really wants to do something finds a way; the other finds an excuse¡¨.
To be honest, nowadays, when it comes to connectivity, we hear many excuses: bad regulation, tough Net Neutrality rules or unfair competition from OTTs.
BEREC will help to find a way. We will build a pro-investment regulatory doctrine.
Since the adoption of the ¡§digital agenda for Europe¡¨ which defined specific fixed connectivity targets, BEREC has been working on how to address the issue of fixed high-speed connectivity in Europe.
At the beginning of the month, BEREC issued a report assessing the state of NGA rollout in several Member States and investigating the main challenges and drivers of such a rollout. This report will provide guidance to regulators on how to promote an infrastructure-based competition while taking account of national circumstances.
In 2017 the BEREC will continue its work by carrying out a comprehensive assessment of the need to review the Common positions relating to Markets 3a, 3b and 4.
Mobile connectivity, the new frontier of regulation
While just a few years ago mobile networks were in most Member States mainly used for voice and SMS services, smartphones have drastically changed consumers¡¦ habits. Nowadays we all wish to stay connected to Internet everywhere. Mobile networks coverage has become crucial for Europeans, that is why this will be an important part of the 2017 BEREC¡¦s work programme.
At BEREC we believe that competition is in most cases the main driver to foster investment in mobile networks.
We, regulators, can even strengthen incentives by making people understand that competition not only deals with prices, but also with quality and coverage. So BEREC will issue a common position on how to monitor the coverage of mobile networks for regulatory purposes, but also to inform consumers and give them the power to choose their network provider pursuant to their specific connectivity needs.
However in some areas, mobile connectivity may lag behind. This is particularly true in rural areas where operators have less incentive to invest, or in constrained areas, such as inside buildings, subways or along transport routes.
Because every citizen and business in Europe deserves a high-speed connectivity, we can¡¦t accept uncovered areas. For this reason, BEREC will work on a report on facilitating mobile connectivity in ¡§challenge areas¡¨.
We certainly will propose to the RSPG to work with us on this specific item.
Second European challenge: how to create an open environment
Why is "open environment" so important?
I see it as a necessity:
• To empower end-users
• To empower new entrants
• And to empower innovation, from all parts.
With the digital revolution transforming every day a new part of our economy, the telecom networks composing the physical layer of the Web constitute the new platform for innovation.
For this reason we shall make sure that they develop as a "common good" regardless of their ownership structure.
Every day, the traffic passing through these networks allows stakeholders from all over the world to provide new services to their customers. Operators who manage these networks have a great responsibility: safeguarding an open environment for innovation.
In order to ensure that Internet remains an "open environment" for all innovations, and not only those selected by telecom operators, Europe adopted last year rules on Net Neutrality.
BEREC's most awaited/followed task in 2016 was to issue guidelines to NRAs on the implementation of the Net neutrality rules.
These guidelines, which were adopted at the end of the summer, will guaranty a harmonized implementation of these rules across Europe.
In 2017 BEREC will mainly monitor the implementation of the net neutrality rules, and help NRAs share their best practices and develop Net Neutrality supervision tools and methods.
Supporting the emergence of innovative networks: no Chinese walls.
We are now on the verge of a new industrial and societal revolution called the Internet of Things, which raises new connectivity issues.
If mobile networks will certainly provide connectivity solutions for IoT, BEREC is well aware that many IoT services exist or may be developed which are based on different connectivity solutions including fixed but also new kind of wireless connectivity.
Network innovation won¡¦t be the privilege of a close club of operators in Europe. NRAs and BEREC shall preserve an open environment for all connectivity solutions.
At the beginning of the year BEREC issued a report on how to enable the Internet of Things in Europe. This report first addressed many issues such as spectrum and numbers needs, as well as specific IoT regulation needs on roaming, switching and number portability.
In 2017 BEREC will organise two workshops to further discuss the regulatory issues raised by the emergence of new networks: one on IoT technologies and their impact on regulation, the other on spectrum needs to foster innovation, with RSPG.
Safeguarding an open environment beyond networks
Europe secured the openness of the environment at the network level, and the risk is now that bottlenecks appear at other levels of the digital value chain.
BEREC will thus analyse the impact of other markets on the openness of the Internet environment. Devices are, for instance, one of the key components of the digital value chain, and manufacturers have the ability and may have the incentive, to facilitate or restrict access to certain digital contents and services.
BEREC will adopt in 2017 a report on the impact of content markets and devices on fixed and mobile telecom markets.
Quality and efficiency at the heart of BEREC's approach to regulation
BEREC always seeks to improve its internal process, as well as the way it interacts with stakeholders. In 2017 BEREC will test innovative regulatory solutions such as data based regulation and Open Gov solutions.
As mentioned, BEREC will take a new step towards a data based regulation on mobile services. BEREC will indeed issue in 2017 a common position on how to monitor the coverage of mobile network to inform consumers and give them the power to choose their network provider pursuant to their specific connectivity needs.
In 2017 BEREC will also launch a collaborative working tool for both its internal working process and external consultative process. With this new tool, BEREC will become more open to citizens and to the digital ecosystems.
Last but not least, BEREC will launch the review of its mid-term strategy for 2018-2020.
As a conclusion, let me remind you Albert Einstein's advice:
"If you have one hour to find a solution, spend 55 minutes to well define the problem and no more than 5 minutes to find the solution".
As final word, I can assume that BEREC can be an important part of the solution, can help to find a way ¡V and no excuses ¡V to solve well defined problems.