LIVE FROM LTE WORLD SUMMIT 2015: The technology sector needs “future-focused policy frameworks” in order to support continued investment and innovation, according to Antonio Amendola, executive director for international external affairs at US operator AT&T.
“I think today, more than ever, it is clear how important investment is. In LTE, in 5G, in inventing the future. But to sustain this kind of investment, we need future-focused policy frameworks. Not necessarily future-proof, because this is almost impossible to have with rules and regulation, but at least future-focused policies,” he said.
The executive reiterated the common argument that while a wide range of players are competing with telcos to offer the same services, the regulatory environment in which they operate may be vastly different. “This is the first battle that we and other operators worldwide are trying to fight,” he said.
“While the market looks totally unrecognisable, what is really familiar are the rules and regulation – we are still dealing with the old rules,” Amendola said.
The executive also discussed the need to be able to operate openly across borders, including the ability to transfer data between various jurisdictions.
“We are not replicated in every country where we operate. We need our functions to operate globally, and our data to flow freely. But unfortunately many countries around the world are trying to impede cross-border flows of data,” he said.
“This has a significant impact on cost for our business, and strongly discourages investments around the world. Of course, we do accept that some guards and restrictions on data flow might be reasonable, for legitimate matters of national security, but they have to be narrowly tailored to address specific concerns,” he continued.
Other items on his agenda include the need for a stable spectrum environment, so that licence owners are able to invest for the long term, and the benefits of a European single digital market.
“It is very difficult for member states in Europe to give up their power, their control of scarce resources like spectrum,” Amendola acknowledged.
Despite his criticisms of the speed of regulatory changed, he was keen to point out that no one is to blame.
“Usually policies play catch-up with technologies. I know how difficult it is for politicians, for regulators, for governments to catch-up – it’s not their fault, it’s the way it is, we are just going much faster than them.”