As technology progresses and consumer demand evolves, the communications sector poses new challenges and hard questions to sectoral regulators and public policy-makers. This is even more evident today, as industry players face the challenge of convergence and the ongoing migration towards digital networks based on the Internet Protocol, where an unprecedented array of services and applications will be made available to end users.The ongoing transition towards all-IP networks – often termed “Next Generation Networks” (NGNs) - promises undoubted benefits for final consumers, but can only be deployed through massive investments by EU operators. Should these investments occur, European citizens could finally gain access to the long-awaited “information society for all”.
Two previous successful Task Forces, “Policy Challenges for the Information Superhighway” and “Achieving the Internal Market for e-communications”, coordinated by CEPS between 2005 and 2008, have issued important suggestions for the future regulation of electronic communications in Europe. The last edition extensively tackled most of the regulatory issues related to the proposed review of the 2002 regulatory framework adopted by the European Commission on November 2007. While the European Parliament was engaged in the first reading of the proposal, some new issues have emerged, which were not directly tackled by the Commission proposal and mostly linked to the ongoing transition towards NGNs.
In light of new challenges emerging, CEPS is launching a new Task Force on Electronic Communications which will tackle directly issues related to convergence, broadband deployment and the development of fully integrated digital platforms in light of the i2010 goals and of “post-Lisbon” strategies.
CEPS plans to organize four meetings of the Task Force, the first one starting on 26 November 2008, and ending in April 2009. The Final Report should then be finalised by May 2009. In the forthcoming meetings, the new Task Force will treat a number of topics such as:
• NGNs and the broadband mix in Europe
• NGNs and fixed-mobile convergence
• The role of public authorities in encouraging investment in infrastructure
• Re-thinking universal service and universal access
• Network neutrality
Staffan Jerneck, CEPS Director, Director of Corporate Relations
Andrea Renda, CEPS Senior Research Fellow, Head of the Regulatory Affairs Programme
1st meeting: 26 November 2008
2nd meeting: 20 January 2009
3rd meeting: 5 May 2009
4th meeting: October 2010
Prospectus of the Task Force