European Competitive Telecommunications Association

Tuesday 10 December 2019

08:15-09:00 Registration, morning coffee and networking

09:00-09:15 Conference opening

Emmanuel FOREST, Chairman, ecta

09:15-10:45 Session 1 -  Implementation of the European Electronic Communications Code 

Twenty years after full liberalisation, electronic communications are finally governed by a single piece of legislation. But despite the newfound simplicity that the Code brings in terms of navigating industry rules, has their complexity really reduced? And can the new rulebook succeed in moving electronic communications truly closer to a single market?

This year’s opening panel addresses these underlying questions through an implementation lens from two angles.

On the one hand, panellists examine the evolution that the historical core of the EU regulatory framework has undergone by zooming in on the differences and similarities that result from the attempt not only to enable competitors to invest, but also to incentivise incumbent operators to do so. Do the new rules strike the right tone to incentivise investment, or do debates about co-investment, wholesale only and other forms of access to wholesale inputs threaten to create a new cacophony?

Secondly, panellists discuss whether the increasingly varied range of regulatory options is able to reassure regulators, market participants and policy-makers that the Code’s objectives will be obtained once the rules are applied, and what role a new Recommendation on Relevant Markets  will play in this context.

10:45-11:20 Coffee break

11:20-12:40 Session 2 - Which Competition Policy for the Digital Era?

To ensure that competition creates a maximum of innovation for consumers has been the driver behind ongoing reflections about how to adapt competition law to the digital age. The transformation of industry towards a data logic of operation in which returns to scale explode and network externalities create an incumbency advantage that innovators find unmatchable, raises novel questions for competition practice and oversight.

This panel looks at the options ahead for Europe’s competition watchdogs in view of the 2019 expert report ‘Competition policy for the digital era’ and pits these against ongoing discussions among sectoral regulators on how to reign in the digital economy. Does new digital competition law have an inbuilt affinity to sectoral ex ante regulation due to the objectives pursued, to the market power issues faced or to a shared underlying basis in a connectivity focus? Can the tools of ex ante regulation offer guidance on how to address (some of) the emerging competition issues? And where will electronic communications providers find themselves between general and sectoral competition law?
These are the questions that panellists will discuss in seeking to scope the contours of a competition policy adapted to a moving digital target.

12:40-13:00 Keynote speech

13:00-14:30 Networking delegate lunch 

13:45-14:15 Lunchtime briefing

14:30-14:50 Keynote speech

14:50-16:10 - Twin track - choose one of the following two panel sessions:

SESSION 3a - Disintegration or Business as Usual? The Role of EU Rules in Non-EU Countries

SESSION 3b - Old Services, New Services, Other Services?

The effects of the EU regulatory framework for electronic communications have historically been felt far beyond the EU, having inspired market liberalisation and  regulation in its immediate neighbourhood as well as in other parts of the world.

In Europe, the regulatory framework has held together the European Economic Area in electronic communications and provided accession candidates with a clear signpost of the direction in which to evolve their rule-making and administrative practices.

The impending departure of the United Kingdom from the Union and the withdrawal from accession negotiations by Iceland raise the question of whether the EU law of electronic communications will be able to retain its integrative force and, more pointedly, what the basis of that force is. Do appropriate mechanisms exist to keep dialogue open, mutual interest present and opportunities for mutual learning available that will reinforce commitment to a common set of rules in the transition to the Electronic Communications Code, and beyond?

Panellists explore the appeal of that shared vision in light of their domestic experiences and challenges, and reflect about the future under the Code.


Competition in the electronic communications sector was for a long time conceived in service-centric terms. Yet with both telephony and text messaging perceived to be on a declining trajectory, not least due to the rise of Internet-based, subscription-less alternatives, there have been doubts about the longevity of service-based competition, as diversity in service offerings seemed to diminish and Internet access was expected to remain the last major bastion of electronic communications revenues.

Recent usage statistics show that the legacy anchors of service revenues are not disappearing just yet. Some European markets are indeed experiencing rising figures both in minutes called and messages sent, and not only during holiday season. At the same time, the adoption of the Code has brought within the scope of sectoral regulation over-the-top services that have been seen as the root cause behind the revenue slump that electronic communications providers have to deal with.

This panel assembles company representatives of different business models within electronic communications and beyond to discuss whether the new rules are fit to level the playing field, whether such levelling is indeed required and what potential for innovation and revenue growth is present in new electronic communications and other services integrating connectivity, also in view of revised net neutrality guidance.                                                                 


16:10-16:40 Coffee break

16:40-17:00 Keynote speech

17:00-18:20 - Twin track - choose one of the following two panel sessions:

SESSION 4a - Technology and Policy Considerations for the Rural Narrow-to- Broadband-to-VHC Transition

The promotion of connectivity and access to, and take-up of, very high capacity networks that the Code introduces as a new, explicit objective of EU sectoral legislation involves a universal ambition in that these networks are to extend to ‘all citizens and businesses of the Union’.

Bringing very high capacity to the population in every Member State involves questions of network design and financing that are of universal relevance for deployment and business decision-making, and thus reverberate across national borders as well as continental shelves.

Paradoxically, the search for efficiencies in rural deployments has prompted perhaps the greatest possible diversity in terms of technological solutions. At the same time, the financing of these solutions may prove particularly risky when in borderline cases parallel deployments can invalidate the business case for either.

This panel assembles discussants to reflect on the practical problems of bringing very high capacity connections to the rural population and business communities and evaluate the EU toolset available to this end, including the Code, the Cost Reduction Directive, the Broadband Guidelines and forthcoming investment instruments, as well as possible international best practices.

SESSION 4b -The Future Is Green: Can the Digital Revolution Be Environmentally Sustainable?

Protests about insufficient climate policies and resultant global warming raise questions for electronic communications providers and users at multiple levels:

Are networks and services provided in the most energy-efficient manner, is electricity for active components procured from green sources, do component choices facilitate low energy consumption? Are usage behaviour and usage modalities conducive to new environmental consciousness?

Using examples from different parts of the electronic communications universe, spanning from network equipment and operations over data centres and content delivery networks to end-user equipment for residential and business applications, this panel seeks to unpick the big energy equation of the global connectivity revolution and to discuss its implications for green behaviour and policy design.

Specifically in a VHC context, this includes shining light on the question of what impact on energy consumption the switch from copper to fibre networks will have on the overall energy balance of the sector.

18:20-19:30 Cocktail reception

Continue to Conference Day 2 Agenda >>

Please note: While every reasonable effort will be made to adhere to the advertised package, ecta reserves the right to change conference content, speakers, dates, sites or location or omit conference features, as it deems necessary without penalty and in such situations no refunds, part refunds or alternative offers shall be made.

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