Fátima Barros, Chairman of ANACOM - Autoridade Nacional de Comunicações, has taken over as the new Chair of BEREC, the body which brings together 28 European regulators in the telecommunications sector and which assists and advises the European Commission; in this context, it will coordinate the work of European regulators and interactions with the European Commission during 2015.
This role is of particular strategic importance in 2015, a crucial year for the sector, given the upcoming decision on the approval of the regulation proposed by former Vice-President Neelie Kroes (Connected Continent Regulation).
One of the biggest challenges facing BEREC's chair in 2015 is to direct the work that will lead to the formulation of the body's opinions on the review of the regulatory framework, which is fundamental to model regulation in coming years. Above all, as the market has evolved, convergence between IT, telecommunications and the media has led to a very complex digital ecosystem, with new players such as Google or Facebook. In this new ecosystem, the boundaries that traditionally defined the area of each sector's operation are being blurred, presenting traditional regulatory models with important challenges.
Fátima Barros considers it imperative that BEREC take a proactive role in the presentation of proposals for this review, supporting the work of the European Commission.
Given the impact on regulation, there are issues of utmost importance which must be considered in this review from the outset. Such is the case of issues related to the use of bundles of services, which present new challenges from a regulatory point of view; and the growing use of OTT (over the top) services, such as Google, Facebook or Skype, which provide voice and messaging services, competing directly with traditional operators while using their networks and increasingly reducing them to the role of mere network access providers.
This leaves traditional operators looking for new business models, which will change the structure of markets. The main objective in reviewing the regulatory framework will be to anticipate the impact of this dynamic on the functioning of markets and the need for regulatory intervention.
The review of the electronic communications regulatory framework will begin after the decision on the Connected Continent Regulation, for which BEREC was engaged in important work in 2014, involving highly relevant aspects in terms of international roaming tariffs, net neutrality and the coordination of spectrum use, particularly with regard to the conduct of frequency auctions in various European countries.
As regards consumers, BEREC will give particular attention to quality of service and transparency, working for the availability of clear and relevant information that allows users to make informed choices and switch providers without difficulty.
BEREC will also maintain its essential interaction with stakeholders, notably through the stakeholder forum to be held in October 2015.