Departing Neelie Kroes urges telcos to embrace OTTs

The European Commission Vice President, Neelie Kroes, has delivered a farewell speech to the members of the European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association (ETNO); in which she urged telcos to embrace over-the-top (OTT) players, and stated her dream for the European telecommunications sector after the current Commission’s tenure ends at the end of October.

Kroes began her speech with an acknowledgement of the turbulent relationship that she has enjoyed with the telecoms sector. “You will know this is among our last moments together,” she said. “In fact, you’re probably all looking forward to the very near future, when the Juncker Commission takes office, when you won’t have to put up with me anymore.”

It’s true, the telecoms operators and Kroes haven’t always seen eye to eye. Kroes has occasionally pointed at an uncooperative telecoms market as a key factor holding back the progression of the Commission’s Digital Single Market proposal. Meanwhile, action regulating roaming revenues saw a reduction of roaming data fees by 55% in 2014 compared to 2013, and between 20% and 30% reductions in call and messaging fees.

Kroes also went on to urge operators to change their views of OTT players in the industry, and highlighted digital content providers as a key motivator for consumer use of broadband services.

“The current situation of European telcos is not the ‘fault’ of those OTT’s. Today, all EU homes have broadband coverage; 76% have a connection; almost half can access it on their mobile,” she said. “They are demanding greater and greater bandwidth, faster and faster speeds, and are prepared to pay for it. But how many of them would do that if there were no over the top services? If there were no Facebook, no YouTube, no Netflix, no Spotify? OTT players are the ones driving digital demand, demand for your services! That is something you can work with, not against.”

Rounding off her somewhat sentimental speech to ETNO, Kroes reminded the operators’ that the Digital Single Market proposal will be maintained and advanced during the tenure of Jean-Claude Juncker, who begins in office as the European Commission’s President on 1st November.

“This is a project that will continue under the next mandate; as Jean-Claude Juncker has made clear,” She said. “A project that can ensure our digital future, where a strong telecoms sector supports every European. That is was I long for, and that is what all of you should long for too.”

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One comment

  1. Avatar Tom 02/10/2014 @ 8:20 pm

    So this woman is basically supporting non EU OTT companies and she works for the EU, very strange.

    She has weakened the EU telecom sector to such a point that it is vulnerable to foreign take over and has difficultly to invest in 4G.

    Why should she be telling Telecom companies what their strategy should be? Just have a basic competitive landscape in place and let the market decide!

    Good riddance.

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