Orange calls for fair regulatory regime in Europe

Opening this year’s Broadband World Forum Europe in Paris on Monday with a keynote speech on innovation and the role telecoms and IT will play in the global economic recovery, host operator Orange could not resist the temptation to hit out at the regulatory environment.

The telecoms industry could create over 1 million jobs in Europe by 2015, but in order to do so, “we need an appropriate regulatory framework,” said Jean-Philippe Vanot, senior executive vice president of innovation and marketing at Orange, opening the event in the absence of chief executive Didier Lombard, who was otherwise engaged.

“The regulatory framework frequently lags behind and sometimes it’s far behind,” Vanot said.

The changing role of the end-user is changing the landscape for telcos, he explained.

In the past the customer played a passive role. He had to “consume content such as defined by the operators,” Vanot said.

“[But now] the customer can really be at the controls,” he added. “The user is an active node,” in the network, thanks to social networks like Facebook, interactive and personalised TV, and ubiquitous access.

“Our physical networks are changing to meet the demand of human and virtual networks,” Vanot said.

“[But the] free-of-charge model raises the question of fair remuneration for the players,” he insisted.

According to Vanot, in 2008 $10 billion in online and advertising revenues crossed the Atlantic from Europe to the U.S., to the benefit of companies like Google. This figure is set to grow to $20 billion by 2012, he estimated.

Telcos must change, said Vanot, and make the most of the online audience and of advertising.

“I’m also thinking of content... the oxygen of our networks,” he said, adding: “We do not make content, we buy it instead.”

Using the ever-popular “coopetition” word, Vanot reminded the audience that competition, and indeed cooperation, is not restricted to within industry silos.

“Our competitors are not only the big telcos,” he said, listing the usual suspects of Apple and Google. “And it will soon include TV manufacturers,” he said.

This article originally appeared on Total Telecom