GROUP20 explores fresh telecom policy ideas

Friday 27. March 2015, Magnus Franklin, a Brussels based senior telecom journalist published an article in MLex on how the European Commission is testing novel forums for gathering fresh outside ideas for their telecom ruling, aiming at sidestepping the trench warfare that up to now characterizes Brussels battles over telecom rules. In his article Magnus Franklin provides some insights on the work devised by GROUP20:

“Another route the commission is using to explore fresh policy ideas is a newly formed body of telecom experts known as ‘GROUP20’. Not to be confused with the group of 20 largest economies (G20), GROUP20 is made up of people who have built a reputation as particulary skillful analysts of the sector.

The group is managed by three men – Georg Serentschy, Austria’s former top telecom regulator; Richard Feasey, an independent consultant who once served as Vodafone’s public-policy chief; and Stephen Howard, a telecom analyst at HBCS Holdings who has lobbied heavily in Brussels for more investment-friendly regulations.

The aim of GROUO20 is to skirt entrenched interests in Brussels, where lobby groups represent former phone monopolies, alternative operators and cable companies could be accused of protecting their own niches, rather then fighting for rules that might beneft the whole industry.

The group therefore excludes regulatory lobbyists but welcomes the participation of (independent) industry figures holding executive positions. GROUP20 hasn’t made a list of participants public, but some 15 experts, from companies large and small, are said to be involved.

GROUP20’s last meeting with the commission officials covered topics ranging from whether wholesale broadband services should be standardized, to what incentives could be put in place to encourage cross-border mergers within the EU. The discussion also touched on the broad question of wether the old rulebook should be phased out gradually after liberalization is complete, allowing competition to be regulated solely by antitrust law.”