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The Chair Desiree Miloshevic, opened the session 7: Smarter Regulation in the Internet Age: “A New Policy Toolbox” and gave the turn to the moderator of the session Gerald Pogorel, who wanted first to state that even if we are talking about smarter regulations, the regulations weren’t dumb at all before. By smarter regulations we mean new kinds of regulations and policies that the Internet Age enables and needs in a way. He also noted that now it is time to shift from legacy monopoly to competition. In his opinion, the central issues are how to build a completely new network (interconnected mobile, 5G and 4G) and how to foster innovation and do it in a competitive manner.

Klaus Nieminen, Communications Network Specialist from FICORA, Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority: Regulatory framework was built in a time of telephony networks, there used to be very thick book to tell the operators how to manage networks and to do things, however that is the old way and it is difficult to innovate so it is not right anymore.

Government can do new rights and so on, but we need to have a less, better and more focus regulation for telecommunication. Sector specific regulation for telecommunication is necessary. We need some regulations to make sure end-users have access to the infrastructure that is secured and reliable. It might be better that we do not duplicate the current framework, instead we should make play field equal and probably something may be left out even.

When it comes to digital signal market, what we should probably do including:

  • Make sure we have a health commercial media due to the internet and competition
  • Issues that prevent free movement within the Europe.

Klaus gave an example of the action preventing free movement within Europe is that he cannot watch the national TV series in foreign countries.

The way of doing regulation is that we should believe in cooperation. Cooperation tightens the connectedness and probably widens the openness at the same time. In addition, he shared his favorite way of doing regulation is to self-regulation. However it is pointed out by others that this might meet difficulties when it comes to EU level.

Margot Dor, from Strategy Development ETSI-European Telecommunication Standards Institute, joined to the discussion and pointed out that the word ‘regulation’ has to be used carefully, because people may understand it differently. For example, policy isn’t the same as regulation. Also, all the regions are doing things differently and they have different regulations. Margot also talked about competitiveness and she wanted to ask an open question directly addressed to the European Commission, but also to for all of us to think about: “What is the vision behind regulations and how do they support the competitiveness of Europe?

Margot addressed the collaboration with other stakeholders: “You are successful if everyone cooperates”. Relating to the subject, she asked us the “16 dollars question”, so to say, referring to the earlier session where one of the panelists said that every dollar invested to the internet, gives us back 15 dollars. To continue the earlier session, Margot asked; Where does the money go, to what social cost and whether the money is equally shared with the market players within the society?

Claudia Selli, EU Affairs Director in AT&T represents AT&T states that the company helps their customers to mobile, go to cloud and go global. In this day and age everything is connected over internet, which requires network has certain capacity and lots of investment. In addition it is necessary to have policy framework which is proper and flexible so that we can better meet customer’s needs and grow healthy. It is also important to foster innovation, increasing participants in market, when the participants amount is increased there will be more chances to innovate and create better environment for the market.

The company serves customers on EU level and there are over twenty different regulations they have to focus. If the regulations and the laws could be smarter and better then it may make start-ups in the market to grow, and same for IT&T to develop better. Besides that, it is also important to scale up the IoT.

Nigel Hickson, VP in ICANN – Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, discussed about creating equal opportunities for all no matter where people live. Today, for example in Finland, you can sense where the internet is going in the future and how the internet has transformed the society. The Internet is part of everyone’s life here. But in Nairobi for example, many people cannot even access to the internet. So when we are talking about smart telecommunication, at the same time there are places where there is no independent regulator or telecommunication. So we have to remember that regulation depends highly on the market you are looking at.

As Margot did earlier, Nigel also referred to the earlier session where it was said that regulation involves all the players, saying that “of course regulation has to involve all the players!”. Everyone has to come together to ensure that the regulation is taken forward in a sensible way. Interaction with the parties is needed.

Sarah (Xiaohua) Zhao, Partner Perkins Coie LLP, talked about the new development in China regarding telecommunication and what are the challenges for Chinese lawmakers. She pointed out that situation in China regarding regulation is quite different from for example in EU, there are many self-regulations. About 40 regulations and policies are issued for industries like the telecom and internet industries. The most important one is the rule to promote in conversion of telecom broadcasting and internet. The government has tried to promote that but the market nature is, they have their own territory so that the conversion could not take place for a long time. The government has tried to launch the law for telecom over 20 years but it is still not realized and the conversion is a problem.

Not long time ago Chinese government has issued the new policy of telecom which gives specific goals and also defines which agencies should be in charge. The new platform has expanded to transportation ministry and local bodies and licenses will be issued case by case in the future.

She also shared the news that the three sectors of telecom, broadcasting and internet are promoting a conversion. This action would combine the resources make for use of the infrastructures; for competition aspect, it will also bring opportunities for other companies rather than the monopolies in the industry for example the three monopolies of Chinese telecom companies(China Telecom, China Unicom and China Mobile) now would have to share the play field with broadcasting companies and vice-versa that the telecom companies could also get into the broadcasting industry. For users it is beneficial because it increases the choices available for users and probably since there will be more players in the field, the price would be decreased accordingly which is good for users as well.