Remarks for PIKE by Manuel Kohnstamm

The 39th International Conference and Exhibition organised by the Polish Chamber of Electronic Communications Hotel Warszawianka Conference Centre Jachranka, Poland 2 October 2012.

Ladies and Gentlemen-

I am deeply touched and honored with this distinction. I will wear these colors with pride and I can assure you that from now on in Brussels and elsewhere I will present myself as Special Ambassador of PIKE!

It has been two years since I was last presenting at this conference and I must say: it is great to be back again.

So much has happened in the cable industry, in the wider economy and indeed we all know that there is a lot happening!

Several European cable companies are already providing 200 and 350 Mb services and some tested speeds beyond 1 Gbps and one of Cable Europe’s members hit 4.7Gbps in a speed trial.

Through such competition, we are massively supporting the achieving of the digital agenda targets as set by EU Vice President Neelie Kroes. Not only are we signed up agents of the Digital Agenda, but we also firmly support her new policy direction which was further explained today at the FT/ETNO conference in Brussels. It gives stronger positive incentives to investors in next generation infrastructure. After two decades of focus on price regulation, it is encouraging for the business community to see that the regulators of Europe are now concentrating on the next twenty years.

With 7000 cable operators and 127 mobile operators, the telecom infrastructure of Europe will simply need more scale, more consolidation and more investments to compete in global markets, increasingly dominated by giant players in equipment, search, commerce and social networks.

The cable industry in Poland is finally, but slowly, finding a route towards consolidation. With 630 operators, this market is still too fragmented to be the genuine industrial powerhouse needed to compete in global markets.

Today, you may not make much of it, but one of the reasons why the larger cable operators in the world are investing billions in interactive television is to build convincing consumer alternatives to the platforms built by Google and Apple. Already today in Poland, I hear that 8 of the 16 million broadband households watch TV over the internet.

That is also why my own company, Liberty Global, is now heavily investing in the new Horizon platform, which was launched in the Netherlands last month. A platform seamlessly integrating the television and internet worlds in a very elegant and ground breaking user interface.

So despite the positive vibe, still a warning worth flagging up here today: Small cable systems which do not link up with such industrial solutions, may soon find themselves cut out of the value chain, reduced to being a dumb television and data pipe, not enjoying the returns on investment they see today.

A healthy national cable television infrastructure in turn, is a strong natural partner for the local content and broadcaster community.

And the smarter and more attractive the television and related streaming video applications become, the stronger you create a locally rooted revenue stream to support Polish content.

This summer, I attended the US – Polish business summit and I was struck by the intense discussion with the whole Polish government on the issue of regulatory efficiency. In the telecom and media markets, a certain base level of regulation is needed, of course, but we should always our own thinking and ask ourselves if the same result can be achieved by means of less regulation. Competition, and in our case competition between infrastructure investors, in the end creates the most added value for customers and society at large.

I am a big believer in the rule of law as the most important condition for economic growth in Europe and I see that Poland is aiming to be part of that part of the EU that takes the rule of law exceptionally seriously.

Well, that’s probably enough from me for one evening. I’m going to exit the stage and quietly admire my new statue of honour. And I wish you all a great end of the conference. I sincerely hope to be back soon again.

Thank you very much.

Manuel Kohnstamm President Cable Europe
SVP & Chief Policy Officer Liberty Global Inc.

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