Posts tagged ‘Neelie Kroes’

Kroes-aid for a Connected Continent

Invest, Innovate and Compete (and growth will come organically)

imageTimes are challenging in Europe. And for some it is tempting to use a wide brush to paint a dark picture for the whole continent. While there are difficulties for some players in the ICT arena, it is too early to draw comparisons to a Lehman Brothers-style collapse for the sector. It’s no coincidence that companies peddling negative messages are the ones with negative or flat growth. But it’s not just a “can’t do” attitude that is holding some in the sector back. The debate kick started by Vice President Neelie Kroes’ “Connected Continent”, pro- posed EU telecoms legislation, represents an opportunity to get Europe back on track.

28 Elephants, 28 Rooms

Judging from the importance that governments across the globe give broadband policy, Commissioner Kroes is right to be pushing the broadband envelope. She also makes an important link between investment and performance. But to invest, you need a good investment environment where risk levels are not aggravated by significant variations in the market that Europe is still trying to turn into a single one. One cannot ignore the differences in Europe among member states – it remains the
proverbial elephant in the room for both the business and political community. And it’s a big enough elephant that it got a mention in European Commission President Barroso’s State of the Union address. He asked a poignant question, “Isn’t it a paradox that we have an internal market for goods but when it comes to digital market we have 28 national markets?”

The F Word

The European Parliament who will be combing through Neelie Kroes’ proposals along with the European Council which brings together relevant ministers from Europe’s 28 members (which the Commissioner recently referred to as “28 ring-fenced telco markets”). Breaking up Kroes’ proposed package into pieces – an – other kind of equally unwanted fragmentation – brings with it significant risks in urgent times, as the Commissioner warned the European Parliament (its first reading is expected to take place in March 2014).


Be Careful What You Wish For (You just might like it)

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.

Regulation 2.0
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.


Interview with Matthias Kurth

In the run-up to Cable Congress 2013 we speak to Matthias Kurth of Cable Europe.

Matthias Kurth Executive Chairman Cable Europe at Cable CongressMatthias joined the organisation as Executive Chairman last October and sits on Cable Europe’s Executive Committee, which has oversight of the cable industry’s main representational duties in Europe. He previously held the position of President of BNetzA* and left behind notable achievements with respect to competition in the telecommunications market.

What stand out as some of cable’s priorities as we look at the state of the industry in 2013?

I have been talking a lot about the consumer since arriving here at Cable Europe, but that’s nothing new for me. Having previously worked as President of BnetzA*, I once called it Europe’s largest consumer protection organization. Having a healthy focus on who we are working for is vital in a business where our direct business relationship with customers is certainly coveted.

So what does the consumer want? The answer to that reveals cable’s priorities. The top priority is not to keep up but to keep ahead of what consumers want. How do we do that? By having the best infrastructure that delivers the best content out there. Consumers don’t really care about what the infrastructure is until it doesn’t work. But they do care more and more about moving their premium content around devices seamlessly and with the sort of high speed cable customers have grown to expect.

So there you have it, we expect to continue upgrading speeds so that consumers have the best quality of service out there. Cable Europe’s members are offering 100Mbps across Europe but speed for speed’s sake isn’t interesting. What is interesting is the high quality experience consumers can have with our continually upgraded networks. We are proud of the contribution we make to Europe’s high quality infrastructure. And it keeps customers coming back for more which, of course, makes everyone happy.

Can you tell us a bit about the importance of investing in next generation broadband to keep these positive trends on track?

Investment and innovation go hand in hand, it’s as simple as that. Cable’s ultra fast broadband services are achieved by relentless re-investment in our networks. We invest, on average in Europe, around 20-25% of revenues annually. And when talking CAPEX, it is worth recalling that the expenditures are made with the goal of both adding value and creating future benefits – for both the consumer and our businesses. There is an element of risk for the investors who make careful decisions based on consumer demand and other vital market condition indicators.

Last year was a turning point where Cable Europe opened Cable Congress with a press briefing that shared the news of 7% top-line revenue growth across the industry. We attributed strong revenue and subscriber growth to a harvest from steady investments that have brought us to where we are today: providers of a great service over a super infrastructure. A recent European Commission report had some great feedback for us. It said that:

  • Cable networks account for the next largest contribution to standard broadband coverage
  • The most important coverage across Europe or fixed next-generation access (NGA) is from cable
  • Docsis 3 cable is the biggest contributor to rural NGA coverage (RNC)
  • Docsis 3 services over the cable networks make a very important contribution to the availability of NGA in the study countries
  • Cable networks make about the same contribution to rural coverage as WiMAX

So it would seem that our investments help bring us to the point of having an infrastructure that is recognized by the European Commission for its wider benefits.

One of Europe’s most prominent tech women recently reminded us of the fibre power in cable networks. European Commissioner Neelie Kroes tweeted a photo of a piece of fibre from Cable Europe on her desk. Tell us a bit about the fibre power in cable’s networks and why it matters to consumers in Europe.

Vice President Kroes has the mind of a board member. Neelie always seeks to better understand business. If you ever have had a meeting with her, you know what I am talking about. She understands the need to encourage investment given its link to innovation. There is an element of pushing for higher speeds in her plan called the Digital Agenda. And we’re already achieving important parts of the Digital Agenda. The numbers in a Solon report that we presented to her personally back this up:  95% of households in the reach of European cable networks will be able to subscribe to high speed internet services from cable in 2020.  By the end of 2013 nearly all cable operators will have upgraded to DOCSIS 3.0, enabling 100-200 Mbps speeds — and higher. With DOCSIS 3.0 rolled out, 100 Mbps speeds are already becoming the standard and cable is projected to offer 51% of EU households 100Mbps or more by 2013.


Together with Manuel Kohnstamm, President of Cable Europe, Matthias will welcome you to Cable Congress 2013, taking place on 5-7th March at The Lancaster in London.

View the latest conference agenda. With over 850 attendees from 35 countries, Cable Congress is the undisputed annual meeting place for the Who’s Who in the industry. This is where decisions are made, strategy for the year ahead is laid out and the cable industry chiefs gather for special event after special event.

Broadband, copyright regulation updates among EC priorities

The creation of a new and stable broadband regulatory environment and updating the EU’s copyright framework are among a digital ‘to-do’ list adopted by the European Commission as new digital priorities for 2013-2014

The Commission has set out seven new priorities for the digital economy and society. According to the EC, the digital economy is growing at seven times the rate of the rest of the economy, but this potential is currently held back by a patchy pan-European policy framework. The priorities announced by the EC follow a comprehensive policy review and place new emphasis on the most transformative elements of the original 2010 Digital Agenda for Europe.

According to European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes, 2013 will be the busiest year yet for the Digital Agenda. “My top priorities are to increase broadband investment and to maximise the digital sector’s contribution to Europe’s recovery,” she stated.

The Commission’s reports that full implementation of this updated Digital Agenda would increase European GDP by 5 per cent, or €1,500 per person, over the next eight years, by increasing investment in ICT, improving eSkills levels in the labour force, enabling public sector innovation, and reforming the framework conditions for the Internet economy. In terms of jobs, up to one million digital jobs risk going unfilled by 2015 without pan-European action while 1.2 million jobs could be created through infrastructure construction. This would rise to 3.8 million new jobs throughout the economy in the long term.

The new priorities are:

1. Create a new and stable broadband regulatory environment

More private investment is needed in high speed fixed and mobile broadband networks. The Commission’s top digital priority for 2013 is therefore finalising a new and stable broadband regulatory environment. A package of ten actions in 2013 will include Recommendations on stronger non-discriminatory network access and new costing methodology for wholesale access to broadband networks, net neutrality, universal service and mechanisms for reducing the civil engineering costs of broadband roll-out. This will build on new Broadband State Aid Guidelines and the proposed Connecting Europe Facility loans.


Cable pledges European broadband commitment

Cable pledges European broadband commitment

euroCable Europe says the concept of infrastructure competition in next generation cable access has ensured greater choice, diversity and competition in pricing. The trade body has repeated to European Commissioner Neelie Kroes that as an investor in future network infrastructure the cable industry is a “signed-up agent” of the Digital Agenda. The comments follow the release by the Commission of Broadband coverage in Europe in 2011, which sets out the progress made in meeting the objectives of the Digital Agenda.

A recent report prepared for Cable Europe by the consultancy Solon says that 95% of households in the reach of European cable networks will be able to subscribe to high-speed internet services from cable in 2020. By the end of 2013 nearly all cable operators will have upgraded to DOCSIS 3.0, enabling 100-200 Mbps speeds.#

Following the rollout of DOCSIS 3.0, 100 Mbps speeds are already becoming the standard and cable is projected to offer 51% of EU households 100Mbps or more by 2013.

Source: Broadband TV News

EC: Cable key in achieving Digital Agenda

Cable Europe, the trade body for Europe’s broadband cable sector, has noted the European Commission’s recognition of the industry’s contribution to the progress in achieving the Digital Agenda.

The European Commission recently released a report that it commissioned to help tell the story of progress in executing Europe’s Digital Agenda. According to Cable Europe, the report – Broadband coverage in Europe in 2011: Mapping progress towards the coverage objectives of the Digital Agenda – comes as welcome further evidence to Europe’s wider connectivity marketplace that progress is being made. While cable emerges as the “most important” NGA (next-generation access coverage) service and “the biggest contributor to rural NGA ”, the report also underscores the need for Europe’s mix of technologies to work in concert to help maximise and improve broadband coverage for Europeans, says Cable Europe.

The cable industry’s contributions to achieving the Digital Agenda, previously detailed in a report by Solon, have propelled the concept of infrastructure competition as a means to ensuring that different technologies compete with one another in the marketplace thus creating greater choice, diversity and competition in pricing. Cable Europe has repeated to Commissioner Neelie Kroes that, as a competitive investor in its own networks of tomorrow, it is a signed-up agent of the Digital Agenda. The numbers in the Solon report back up the claim as 95 per cent of households in the reach of European cable networks will be able to subscribe to high speed internet services from cable in 2020. By the end of 2013 nearly all cable operators will have upgraded to DOCSIS 3.0, enabling 100-200 Mbps speeds — and higher. With DOCSIS 3.0 rolled out, 100 Mbps speeds are already becoming the standard and cable is projected to offer 51 per cent of EU households 100Mbps or more by 2013.

Some salient points in the Commission’s broadband coverage report include:

  • Cable networks account for the next largest contribution to standard broadband coverage
  • For fixed next-generation access (NGA) cable is the most important coverage across Europe
  • DOCSIS 3 cable is the biggest contributor to rural NGA coverage (RNC)
  • DOCSIS 3 services over the cable networks make a very important contribution to the availability of NGA in the study countries
  • Cable networks make about the same contribution to rural coverage as WiMAX


Coexistence: The Missing Element in Current Spectrum Policy

European Forum for Spectrum Coexistence launches first White Paper on spectrum policy

As Commissioner Neelie Kroes made important announcements in Brussels at the 7th Annual European Spectrum Management Conference, Cable Europe, as a member of the European Forum for Spectrum Coexistence (EFSC), launches a white paper on spectrum, Coexistence: The Missing Element in Current Spectrum Policy.

The European Forum for Spectrum Coexistence supports the European Commission’s objectives shared by Member States to harmonize conditions regarding the availability and efficient use of the radio spectrum in the EU. This represents an important component of the wider policy initiative called the “Digital Agenda” and the first Radio Spectrum Policy Programme which was launched by Commissioner Kroes to deliver sustainable economic, social and cultural benefits from Europe’s digital single market. But without coexistence among all components of the electromagnetic ecosystem as a key tenet written into EU rules and regulations, which impact Member States and their citizens, these worthy policy objectives will struggle to become reality.


Manuel Kohnstamm Speaking Notes at PIKE

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.


Exclusive Interview with Neelie Kroes: Rocking the Tech World – Part 2


5. Do you see technology policy as a good area for Transatlantic cooperation? Why or why not?

The answer is simply yes.
The word technology can be defined in various ways, but all of them are intrinsically international. The most recent Internet technology knows no borders and cannot be contained in a nation state. I believe the recent developments in Northern Africa provide ample proof of that. Also, in terms of the more traditional technology, information and communication goods and services travel much more rapidly than some other goods. Technological developments and businesses go global immediately.

While I do not underestimate the developments in many countries, not least China, India, South Korea and Japan, I do believe that both the USA and the European Union play a leading role. The USA is known for its various billion dollar companies having grown from garages. European companies have led the way in touch screen technology and mobile communications. The European Union also boasts enormous developments in areas like eHealth, eGovernment and other ICT applications used in our every day life.

Transatlantic cooperation is not only a desire, it is a reality. Apart from the regular meetings that are organised between the European Union and the USA there are a couple of specific elements of cooperation that I wish to highlight:

Firstly, I signed a Memorandum of Understanding with my American counterpart last year on cooperation in the area of eHealth.


Exclusive Interview with Neelie Kroes: Rocking the Tech World – Part 1

Cable Europe’s Gregg Svingen talks to Neelie Kroes, Commissioner for Europe’s Digital Agenda in exclusive interview on cable, the net and girl power.

Entering Commissioner Kroes’ space at the European Commissions’ Headquarters in Brussels, it is hard not to notice an imposing brick sitting in the middle of her glass table.
A closer look reveals the word ‘Nee’, or Dutch for ‘No’. It’s a helpful reminder about this tech woman’s resolve in executing Europe’s Digital Agenda brick by brick (and a few clicks, too).

1. What are you doing to get more women involved in technology and more generally in business and policy making?

I am concerned that not enough women are engaged in this interesting and exciting sector. I am working with my colleagues in the European Parliament and interested Ministers to address this general skills shortage in the sector. In my view, the ICT sector must find a new gender balance if it wants to avoid underperformance. Our goal of “Every European digital” means getting European woman digital too. The issue is not new: over the years, my services have undertaken a number of activities in this area which have led me to the conclusion that we need to work together with business. We have developed a code of best practice which has over 60 signatories from multinationals, academia, SMEs and NGOs and has helped influence the way these companies attract, recruit, train and retain women in this sector. But we still need to do more to get girls into this field.


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