Converged Communication: Are we there yet?

International Institute of Communication
Shaping the Policy Agenda

London Conference 9-10 October 2013

Trends in Global Communication – Converged Communication: Are We There Yet?

Ed Richards, Chief Executive, Ofcom, UK

What are you trying to achieve? – question to regulators from business

Rise of global “league table-ism”

Better to understand specificities of markets – typically (but not always) national – than to draw up global league tables

Six ideas for improvement:

1. Ubiquitous connectivity and universal minimum connectivity- fixed and mobile
2. More and better innovation- relationship between spectrum, networks and devices becoming critical – requires reform of spectrum management – property rights/unlicensed spectrum balance – sharing spectrum e.g. with defence
3. Informed, engaged and active consumers – what are actual broadband speeds, range of coverage, quality of service etc. – ease of switching, transparency of data (4G)
4. Dynamic market on both demand and supply sides – two poles of argument: a battle of giants/no regulation vs. continuing importance of last mile/ need for monopoly and
/or more regulation – how to promote more investment in fibre while promoting competition – environment for content as well as networks
5. Converged regulatory and policy framework – promise of convergence now being realised – policy environment has not caught up – need for greater policy consistency in context of triple/quad plays
6. Adoption of new services and networks – getting a better information base on what decisions are being made/not being made e.g. not going digital (about 15-20% of populations)

What exists in regulation is 85% the product of history and 15% the product of contemporary analysis (response to question) – how to think beyond accreted layers of policy and regulation designed for older times.

Converged regulatory and policy framework – Convergence Review (Chris Chapman question) – sectoral differences in the digital economy are melting – are other countries making progress here? Most permeable boundaries are (1) content regulation responsibilities – “safe” broadcasting/connected TVs; and (2) privacy, data protection, uses of “big data” – absence of a settled institutional framework.

Randall Stephenson, Chair & CEO, AT&T

How to build high-speed Internet access by multiple means?

Economics of investment in fibre continue to improve

BUT

How to do the new stuff (all IP, all wireless, all cloud) and what to do about the “old stuff” – AT&T getting out of providing POTS by 2020

Content by 2020 will largely sit in the cloud rather than on devices

Video traffic now 53% – May be close to 100% by 2020

Mobile number will be primary identifier for people

Revenue per household is increasingly coming from monetising data rather than from direct payment for services from consumers/households

Regulators may be the inhibitors of this transition – FCC not on top of this in the US context

Are you regulating services or regulating technologies? – should be the former and not the latter.

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About Terry Flew

I am Professor of Media and Communication in the Creative Industries Faculty at the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia. I am the author of New Media: An Introduction, the fourth edition of which was published by Oxford University Press in 2014. I am also the author of Understanding Global Media, published by Palgrave in 2007, and The Creative Industries, Culture and Policy, published by Sage in 2012.