Meet the new sheriffs of European telecoms regulation

By Michael Carroll

The faces of European telecoms regulation have changed considerably in the nine months since November 2014.

Andrus Ansip was appointed as vice president of the European Commission's (EC) Digital Single Market, a role that encompasses telecoms regulation and management of spectrum across the region, among other duties. At the same time, Günther Oettinger took on similar responsibilities as part of his new posting as Commissioner for the Digital Society and Economy.

Both effectively replaced Neelie Kroes, the former vice president for the Digital Agenda, highlighting that her position had become so complex during her four-year tenure that the EC believed it could not be carried forward by one commissioner alone.

The EC also appointed Margrethe Vestager as the new Competition Commissioner, replacing Joaquin Almunia. Vestager's appointment came as a wave of consolidation began to sweep through Europe's telecoms markets, particularly those with four or more mobile operators. Such numbers, operators argue, have made markets unsustainable by sparking damaging price wars that eroded revenues and hindered future network investments.

There were also changes within the national regulators of France and the UK. The first is Sebastien Soriano, who took on the role of chairman of French regulator Arcep in February for a six-year term. Soriano took up his position as operators in the market squabbled over the need for further consolidation following the formation of Numericable-SFR.

A month later, Sharon White took the helm of UK regulator Ofcom as CEO. Like her counterparts in France and the EC, White is dealing with a wave of proposed operator consolidation as well as an increasing trend towards convergence between fixed and mobile services.

While it's not quite the "Wild West," all five regulators can very much be regarded as the new sheriffs in town. Each faces some tough times ahead in terms of implementing new policies and updating existing regulations to match a rapidly changing telecoms market that is only just beginning to return to growth following several years of stagnation.

Here we take a closer look at the new faces, including their background, early achievements and the challenges they will face during their time in office.

Meet the new sheriffs of European telecoms regulation
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