A Changing of the Guard in European Telecoms

Competition is dead.  Long live Competition

“Today’s European market is fragmented, ring-fenced, and subscale.”

“And when you ask me about competition from over-the-top players: […] the current situation of European telcos is not the “fault” of those OTTs. In fact: OTT players are the ones driving digital demand – demand for your services! That is something you can work with, not against. ”

“So if you’re making those complaints: be specific. “Regulate my rival” is not a general call that will ever find much resonance.”

Unfortunately, this was Neelie Kroes’ last speech as European Commissioner to ETNO, the European Telecoms Network Operator summit.

I say unfortunately, as she seems to make the same argument for the operators that I make for ip.access, that we should prepare our products to help MNOs sell to the OTTs – Presence being a first example.  She’s also making a hard-to-refute observation that the telco sector is the last bastion of pre-war national tariffs.  Her comments regarding anti-competitiveness, both in terms of national regulation and scale, seem to point the way to large-scale cross-border consolidation – maybe even a European market of telcos similar to the US, with four major carriers for the whole of Europe.

I can only think this is bad for innovators such as ip.access and our customers alike.  It decreases our direct operator market, forces a tiered supply chain, and turns our larger competitors into palace guards, to the benefit of no-one but them.

Which can only increase the imperative behind OTT oriented solutions like Presence.  And, in due course, LTE-U.

It will be interesting how Neelie’s successors carry these initiatives forward.

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