LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 EUROPE, BRUSSELS: Pierre Louette, deputy CEO at Orange (pictured), slammed two pieces of proposed European legislation of “vital importance to operators”, as he called for policies conducive to creating an investment-friendly environment.
In a presentation, Louette pinpointed both the Electronic Communications Code and EU ePrivacy regulation as examples of policies which have gradually weakened from the initial proposals presented, putting operators at an disadvantage.
For instance, Louette said the Electronic Communications Code, a proposal first published in 2016 by the European Commission, was initially headed in a good direction because it put the emphasis on investment.
He argued, unlike past legislation which put the focus on the consumer advantage (such as the new rules on roaming), this one targeted fostering an environment conducive to investment to enable Europe to compete with both the US and Asia.
However, as the legislation was put through parliament, and also the state, it did not take long before operators saw “degradation”, leading to “the same old story”.
Honing in on two particular points, he said harmonisation of spectrum and creating an integrated European market, is now in a weaker state than it used to be: “There is a resistance from states, who do not want give up their power in this field,” he said.
Secondly, the regulation on fibre deployment had also been “transformed by parliament and gradually weakened”, despite the fact such networks are deployed by incumbents, which lead to jobs and also creates wealth for a particular market.
“We really wish that the people investing real money in real networks are not hampered, or made weaker, by a regulation that will be in favour of consumer-based competition,” he said: “We need signals to incentivise us to invest as much as we do, and plan to.”
Taking aim at the EC’s updated ePrivacy regulation, Louette hit out at the fact operators will not be subject to the same rules as over-the-top players, as he questioned why exactly they were restricted and OTT companies were looked on more favourably.
The change in privacy rules states operators can process user data if it is necessary to ensure the communications are secure.
To process metadata, it needs to be for billing or if consumers give their consent. Operators, however, argue the laws should mirror GDPR regulation (due to be implemented in 2018), allowing organisations to process data if they have a legitimate interest.
Louette argued the directive indicated “telcos should be governed by restrictive rules”, as he questioned the need for another set of legislation alongside GDPR.
“We will be denied if this regulation goes through,” he said: “We will be denied the same rights that over-the-tops will benefit from by operating on our networks. We invest in great networks and yet they have different regulation. I don’t understand why. Have they been so protective of people’s privacy? Have they proven to be the ones defending Europeans? Have they invested in Europe’s future? I am not certain.”