The only people who don’t change their minds are those in insane asylums or cemeteries, said Everett Dirksen, an American politician. 2012 was marked by a fundamental development in thinking amongst European Union leadership that was hailed by the wider telecoms sector as not only a capital market conscious move but one of anticipated stability after a decade of what one cable CEO termed a “decade of price erosion for the telecoms sector.” It may not have seemed immediately obvious why an announcement on enhancing the broadband investment environment was such a big moment.
Evidence based decision making
Vice President Neelie Kroes said, “After examining all the evidence, and given the significant competitive relationship between copper and NGA networks, we are not convinced that a phased decrease in copper prices would spur NGA investment.” The European Commissioner for all things technology continued, “We now see fibre investment progressing relatively well in some Member States where copper prices are around or above the EU average.” Cable industry execs would be quick to agree, citing the crucial element that fibre plays in the Hybrid Fibre Cable (HFC) networks that help garner the cable’s reputation for speed-based performance.
The benefits of doubt
But there must have been a healthy amount of doubt about the wider effects of price intervention. Having consulted far and wide with the very industry building Europe’s communications networks of tomorrow, Vice President Neelie Kroes finally settled on a policy solution, something that many market players would characterize as reassuring.
Markets aside (which rebounded on news of the decision), political thinking beyond the Berlaymont recognizes the need to re-assess – even recast – regulation. A thought piece put out in a personal capacity by Georg Serentschy furthers the discussion of what he calls “Regulation 2.0.” The CEO of Austrian national regulatory authority RTR and 2012 head of BEREC, the grouping of European telecom regulators, majors on what some have termed a “paradigm shift” in regulatory thinking by Commissioner Kroes.