Final conclusions

Based on past experience and the evolution of regulatory conditions, ICP-ANACOM has changed the structure of the publications it produces, with a particular focus on the suggestions of the Advisory Council in relation previous reports. The present report results from this restructuring.

In fact, by combining the Activities Report and the Regulation Report, ICP-ANACOM is seeking to maintain the specificity of the regulation area, integrating it into the set of activities for which ICP-ANACOM has statutory responsibility. As such, ICP-ANACOM has set out to remedy the duplication that was always difficult to avoid in the previous model of separate reports, given that it was poorly understood that the Activities Report does not refer, also, to ICP-ANACOM's primary function of regulation. Moreover, the evolution of regulatory decisions cannot be separated from the oversight function that is required to guarantee the effectiveness of these decisions, whereas the role of the radio spectrum in the regulation of electronic communications is increasingly and clearly more prominent.

Finally, it is important not to forget ICP-ANACOM's obligations in providing assistance to the Government in the definition of strategy and general policies on communications, to provide representation of the Portuguese State in international organizations, to conduct studies in the areas of electronic and postal communications and cooperate with regulators of other countries.

The joint presentation of all these activities, provided it is properly structured, enables a more integrated view of ICP-ANACOM’s performance and accomplishments which is in line with the generally integrated view that citizens have of its activity, given that its decisions, whatever their nature, are usually referred to as having been taken by the "Regulator".

The challenge posed by this restructuring is large and difficult, but we hope that this exercise will contribute to giving greater transparency to ICP-ANACOM's activities, with a more integrated perspective.

However, the reporting and structuring of ICP-ANACOM’s activities in the scope of the European Union remain resistant to this challenge. Referring to ICP-ANACOM's participation in such activities as technical representation of the state or cooperation with other regulators is a formal option that can obscure not only the volume and depth of the work developed in this context, but also, and above all, the increasing impact of these activities on the regulatory decisions taken in each of the countries of the European Union.

The entry into force of the new regulatory framework, with the creation of BEREC (Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications) is demanding attention and increasing and committed action from each of the National Regulatory Authorities, and so from ICP-ANACOM, in order that that the evolution towards the eventual construction of a single market for electronic communications proceeds fully while respecting the principle of subsidiarity, and therefore legitimizing the activities of national regulations.

In fact, in the field of Communications, the tendency to give formal basis to bodies which began as informal cooperation groups is increasing - as is clearly visible with the development of the RSPG (Radio Spectrum Policy Group and the activity of ERGP (European Regulators Group for Post). This trend has heightened the need for continued attention to the dynamics of transformation, requiring flexible reallocation of resources in order to accomplish an effective balance between European integration (in crisis, at that) and thorough and open national market regulation.

If we couple these changes with the broader concerns about network and information security and, in particular, about broadening the potential scope of action by National Regulatory Authorities in protecting the interests of consumers and citizens, the nature and extent of the problems that have to addressed becomes clearer.

The complexity of these challenges is only exacerbated when coupled with the suggestion of the Advisory Board to deal with, even if only with a prospective outlook, "matters on the agenda of the European electronic communications sector:

i) Net Neutrality

ii) Digital Single Market (Contents, copyright)

iii) OTT (over the top)

ii) Social Networking

iii) e-education

iv) e-health

v) Cloud Computing"

We have little doubt that these suggestions are "extensions" made possible by the innovative dynamism of electronic communications. This sector, as evidenced by fixed and mobile next generation networks, is still undergoing development. All this calls for a rethinking of the characteristics of substitution and complementarity with regard to the various technologies, with effects not yet fully determined as regards the legitimacy of the prevalence of current regulatory criteria, as well as (and the two characteristics are not independent) of ensuing business organization and the consequent new structure of the relevant markets.

These are the priority and key issues, although, and as is recognized, not removed from the other suggested issues. In particular, net neutrality is a pivotal issue between the activities of "transporting" communications and the "objects" transported.  As such, ICP-ANACOM remains engaged in the study and monitoring of the issue, as was well demonstrated by the theme chosen for our last conference (held in 2010) and above all, by the focus on the works being developed within BEREC. Except that most of the suggestions will impose (?) an organization of regulation that goes well beyond the boundaries of what ICP-ANACOM is today.

Is this a further challenge?