Saturday, October 29, 2005

6th Telecoms Regulation and Competition Law 

Last week I partizipated at the 6th Telecoms Regulation and Competition Law Conference in Brussels organized by ViBevents.

I was invited to speak about Access to Emergency Services from the Internet, one of my favourite topics ;-)

I partizipated already last year and I enjoy this conference, because the audience and also the topics are a bit different to the more technical conferences I normally visit. It is mainly laywers both from regulators and from operators and the topics center about legal regulatory and competion law issues, and it is European centric. One major issue at the conference was the market definitions within the New European Regulatory Framework (NRF), the second was about the new hot topic - digital rights management (DRM) and copyright laws and the third was regulatory compliance (see especially BT Group Regulatory Compliance)

Since the presentations are not available for the public (except mine), I will concentrate only on the major issues.

Regarding market definitions, notification and remedies the hottest topic was of course market 16, wholesale mobile termination. Roland Belfin from RTR, Austria presented the latest developments in the field of mobile termination, especially the proposed glide path to unify mobile termination fees.

Other markets where also discussed, especially the access markets, LLU and bit stream access, also in context with triple play and service bundling and VoIPand NGN in general.

Alain Van Gaever gave an overview on the first day regarding the framework and the current status of discussions, Inge Bernaerts from DG Competitions gave an overview an the second day on the current status of market definitions and notifications in general. The picture here is quite mixed, some countries have already most of the markets notified, some are quite lagging behind, some have none yet notified. Interesting that no country has yet analyzed market 17 International Roaming. There are also some vetos from the commission, but she said this is improving because the regulators and the commission started pre-notification discussions.

One statement from Inge Bernaerts was quite curious, becuse she said that the market definitions have shown to be "future-proof".

This was considered interesting and rejected by some (me included), because the conference showed quite clearly that there are lurking many problems regarding the market definitions with new applications, such as VoIP, NGN in general, new access technologies such as WiMAX, FTTH, bring-your-own-broadband (BYOB), triple play, bundling, IPTV, etc.

The EU comission is plannig to revise the market directive and afterwards the NRF, which is IMHO the wrong order.

Another hot issue was DRM, in specially regarding audio and TV broadcasting, but also for other media such as publications. Here also seems to be a conflict between the rights of the owners of the publications or media and the consumer rights, especially on privacy. The role of the intermediaries are also problematic. The whole discussion is at the moment very confusing and solved only partially be solutions broken at introduction already. I think it is necessary to first make a clear requirements statement.

I was also very impressed by the presenation and the discussion on the round table day following the conference from Keith Read, Director for Regulatory Compliance, BT Group. First, I consider it interesting that such a department exists at all within an incumbent, and Keith showed enthusiastically the benefits of regulatory compliance for the regulator, the partners, the customers and finally for BT itsself, because this saves BT a lot of hazzles and also money. For more information on this see BT plc compliance policy and especially the recent Annual Compliance Report.

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