Reg comments17

EU needs a single telco regulator, says Google's top policy wonk

We're regulated even more than traditional telco providers, reckons ad-slinger

Europe needs a single telco regulator if over-the-top providers are to flourish across the continent, Google's public policy manager of EMEA, Theo Bertram, has said.

Speaking at a Westminster Forum event Bertram said the long awaited update to European Telecommunications Framework must take into account OTTs, of which Google is one.

"Every successful OTT needs to be global, they can’t be local. The challenge for European start-ups and developers... is if we start making it harder to scale up won’t compete globally," he said.

"We don’t have one regulator across Europe... and it is harder to argue country-by-country regulations is going to be good for the economy."

His remarks follow calls by two EU committees last month that that the EU's telecoms market should be regulated by a single authority.

Bertram said that unlike traditional telcos, Google faces a greater regulatory burden.

"I want to dispel the myth that we are unregulated. We have many regulations that bear down on us." He named compliance with right to be forgotten and obligations on privacy and data.

Asked to name the biggest regulatory hurdle facing the company he said: "It is much less about UK regulation, and increasingly about European regulations. The telecoms frameworks is a challenge."

Bertram, also dismissed the argument that OTT providers are "free riding" on telcos' infrastructure investment - pointing to the company's spend on data centres and undersea cables.

He said the company did not want to become the world's internet service provider, as that was not as profitable as its core business.

"We're not going to see Google Fiber coming to Europe. Anyone looking at Europe would see a market more competitive. So it would be harder to deliver given levels of competition here."

He also said it would be "extremely unlikely" that the company's Project Loon – intended to provide Wi-Fi via hot air balloons to unconnected parts of the world – would come to the UK.

"Last time one did, we had to warn the MoD not to shoot it down," he said. ®

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