EUROPE, A LEADER NOT A LAGGARD by Matthias Kurth, Executive Chairman, Cable Europe #CableCongress2015
Since I joined Cable Europe in 2012 I’ve become accustomed to a particular feeling that the New Year brings. I’m not referring to the promise of change and betterment (though I have made a few of my own resolutions for 2015), but of the excitement and anticipation that builds in the run up to Cable Congress.
Reasons always abound for why Cable Congress is the must-attend event for the industry. In the last few years the cable sector has been in a permanent state of change. Competition with telecommunication companies, infrastructure carriers and content providers has driven a constant reshaping of business models. We’re seeing M&A activity and continued investor appetite on one side and fast changes in technology and value creation strategies on the other. It’s an exciting mix. Cable Congress is the only place where leading players come together to discuss these trends, how to deal with emerging challenges and how to create new opportunities.
“We’re seeing M&A activity and continued investor appetite on one side and fast changes in technology and value creation strategies on the other.”
I’m particularly excited about Congress coming back to Brussels following a year that has brought many changes to the EU’s political landscape and a strong commitment by the new European Commission to the digital economy. With many policymakers from the European Commission and the European Parliament expected to be in attendance, I look forward to hearing more about plans to realise the Digital Single Market in Europe. Critically though, the digital agenda and further investment in high speed broadband can only be enhanced if we all have trust in a stable and forward-looking policy framework. To do this, we need balanced policy discussions focused on finding smart solutions, which we will kick off with dialogue at the Congress.
“We need balanced policy discussions focused on finding smart solutions.”
While we often hear in Europe that we are playing catch up with the US in the technology space, when I compare the investment climate in Europe with the United States, I am actually rather optimistic about some of the regulatory trends. Take net neutrality. Whereas President Obama has indicated he wants to regulate the Internet under Title II of the Telecommunications act that stems from the 1930s, I see early indicators of a markedly more rational and fruitful solution in Europe. The European Commission, along with an increasing number of national governments, is convinced there is a win-win solution to be had between upgrading internet access and driving the development of innovative, specialised services such as videoconferencing, telemedicine and M2M communications. This contrasts starkly with President Obama’s message, which came as a shock to investors, and leads to uncertainty about the investment environment in the US.
“I believe Europeans might have the opportunity to lead the way when it comes to investment in broadband and digital infrastructure.”
In fact, I believe Europeans might have the opportunity to lead the way when it comes to investment in broadband and digital infrastructure. While every investor will think carefully about the legal and regulatory infrastructure it interacts with, it is clear that better broadband and private investment can form a cornerstone of Europe’s digital agenda. To be sure, regulation played an important role in opening up former government monopolies, but the landscape has changed dramatically in telecommunication over the last 15 years. A modern way of regulation has to reflect that and leave more and more ground to market forces and innovation. Europe is moving in the right direction.
Cable Congress will be taking place in Brussels from 11-13 March 2015, The SQUARE, Brussels. For more information and to register, please click here.