“Cooperation between stakeholders - the key principle to drive the development of the digital sphere,“ says BEREC Chair at the GSR-20 discussion

08 July 2020

Collaborative regulation, spectrum management, digital safety, as well as the inclusiveness were among the main topics of the Global Symposium for Regulators 2020: Regional Regulatory Roundtable Discussion that took place on 7 July 2020 online. In his keynote speech, the BEREC Chair Dan Sjöblom invited the regulators to seize this historic opportunity to come together to use new regulatory approaches to accelerate the inclusive growth of ICTs. The BEREC Chair, who also is serving as the GSR-20 Chair, emphasized, that “the improving the access and use of digital technologies is now, perhaps more than ever, key for the achievement of global goals, such as fighting pandemics and reaching other global goals such as the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Special attention was paid to the role of national regulatory authorities in shaping an enabling environment for the development of digital connectivity for all. The BEREC Vice–Chair Jeremy Godfrey introduced the participants with the regional trends and stressed that connectivity has saved lives by allowing people to work, shop and school from home during lockdown. He acknowledged the good job that the telecoms industry has done by ensuring that there was sufficient coverage and capacity to keep people connected as well as the proactive measures some took to increase end users data allowances, zero-rating traffic to health and educational websites and working with their customers to agree financial solutions for those in difficulty.

Mr Godfrey outlined the role that BEREC played during the initial phase of the pandemic in Europe by gathering and publishing information from NRAs across all European member states regarding the evolution of internet traffic as well as measures taken by governments, regulators and operators in the ICT sector to mitigate the effects of Covid.

Mr Godfrey noted that the pandemic has shown that there still is a digital divide and it will be important to ensure that those people in rural areas gain access to adequate broadband as much as those that already have adequate broadband gain access to the latest very high capacity networks. He went on to highlight the role that BEREC has to ensure the consistent application of the provisions of the new European Electronic Communications Code, which will come into effect in December this year and which contains several pro-investment measures, including wholesale-only and co-investment models. These provisions, along with end-user provisions such as independent comparison tools enabling the comparison and evaluation of different internet access services and publicly available communications services mean that BEREC has been working hard on providing guidelines on how these provisions should operate in practice, which will assist NRAs and provide regulatory certainty to industry players.