25 May, 2016

Online platforms: telcos stress importance of horizontal view of the digital value chain

The European Commission has launched today ​a series of important actions in the context of the Digital Single Market Strategy, including their Communication on Online Platforms in the Digital Single Market. ETNO welcomes the view that the Commission has taken by looking at the broader digital value chain, which recognises new competitive dynamics in the markets and the need to create more stimulus for innovation.

Today, consumers enjoy a wide range of choice. When communicating for example - An instant message or an SMS, a voice or a VoIP call: a rich world of alternatives is often just one “app” away and it is empowered by widespread broadband availability.

A consistent, horizontal and pro-innovation approach is therefore crucial for the tech and telecoms industries to deliver enhanced services to European citizens and create new opportunities of growth.

General principles for a horizontal approach

ETNO is in favour of simplifying and streamlining the current regulatory toolbox, with a view to ensuring consistency for consumers, boosting innovation and avoiding overregulation. For this reason, we support the general principles laid out in the Communication, which include: a level playing field for comparable services, transparency and fairness, responsible behaviours of online platforms and non-discriminatory markets. On the latter, trading practices and their impacts on suppliers and consumers are of particular importance.

We also underline positive mentions to self-regulation and co-regulation solutions for platforms, which we believe should be similarly considered for traditional communication services.

Regulatory simplification in the Telecoms Framework and ePrivacy

ETNO also supports the recognition that a deregulatory stance is needed in the Telecoms Framework Review, with a view to scaling back on sector-specific regulation and ensuring a “same service, same rule” approach. We believe that the consumer protection acquis should be principle-based, and applied horizontally across the value chain.

As for the ePrivacy Directive, we believe that Europe should recognise how most of the privacy concerns are now addressed by the horizontal General Data Protection Regulation. We should therefore scale-back on sector-specific regulation, and remove unnecessary provisions.

The timing of Telecoms Framework and ePrivacy reforms should also be aligned, so as to maximise consistency among different sets of provisions.

Lise Fuhr, Director-General of ETNO, said: “Consumers focus on services rather than underlying technologies. We should open up new streams of innovation by lifting sector-specific rules and adopting a horizontal, principle-based approach”.

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