Next up in our “5 questions for…” interview series, we’re talking to Fabio Colasanti, President of the International Institute of Communications (IIC). Established in 1969, the IIC is an independent, global, not-for-profit policy forum for the converging telecoms, media and technology industries. Prior to his role at IIC, Fabio was Director General in the European Commission for over 10 years. In all his roles, Fabio has been a highly respected thought leader on policy issues in the ICT field. You can read more about Fabio here.
Alberto: You currently serve as president of the IIC. Can you tell us more about the organization and its focus?
Fabio: The IIC provides fora to discuss issues of interest to people working in the Telecom, Media and Technology world. It was founded in 1969 and over the years has built up a reputation as an independent policy forum where policy issues can be discussed in confidence (Chatham House rules) and in depth. It is encouraging to observe how a large part of the participants to its events are people who return year after year. Many members of the Institute are telecom and media regulators from all over the world and some seminars are reserved only to them. This shows how the IIC is placed at the intersection between policy making, regulation, industry and academia.
Alberto: From 2002 to 2010, you headed the European Commission’s Department for Information Society and Media. How did you see the ICT sector evolve during your tenure?
Fabio: The sector evolves so rapidly that eight years make quite a difference. In those years we moved from being worried about access to broadband to the deployment of NGAs. Internet issues moved from being just a subject for specialists to an issue attracting the attention of the political world. Access to content and piracy became major policy concerns. Privacy and data protection are now policy issues with which many people are familiar. And the whole development of the digital ecosystem started showing the many obstacles that still stand in the way of the achievement of real internal market in the European Union.
Alberto: IIC’s Communications Policy & Regulation Week was recently held in Vienna to discuss trends in global communications. With the mobile Internet revolutionizing our lives and how businesses operate, how do we ensure there’s a regulatory environment in place that allows us to fully enjoy its benefits?
Fabio: This issue featured prominently in the discussions among regulators, in the seminar on Machine to Machine – sponsored by AT&T – and in the Annual conference. We have reached the point where more people are accessing the internet via mobile devices than via fixed line connections, which does not mean that the deployment of fixed line NGA is not also an important issue.
Many specialists provided us with estimates that confirm the incredibly rapid growth of this way of accessing the internet. The discussions obviously centred on the availability of spectrum, but also on the appropriate regulatory regime and, especially, on the amount of competition you should have in each market. Some interesting developments in this respect have recently taken place in Europe and they were discussed in depth.
Alberto: Earlier this year, AT&T sponsored the IIC’s Telecommunications and Media Forum in Miami for the Caribbean and Latin America region. What do you think were the key ICT policy areas for this region?
Fabio: Thanks to the support of a number of organizations and, above all, of AT&T, the IIC was able to organize a series of events particularly aimed at attracting participants from Latin America and the Caribbean. We had a two-day seminar of the series “Telecom and Media Fora” which was preceded by a one day, closed-doors seminar reserved for regulators.
Most of the issues that were discussed are the same that concern industry and policy makers in all other parts of the world. But there was also a special interest in encouraging demand for the digital economy and on providing content relevant and appropriate to the diversity of many countries of the region. The discussions were also fuelled by the changes that are taking place in the institutional set up for regulation in many countries of the region.
Finally, since the two events took place just a month after the “Netmundial” meeting in Brazil, there was a keen interest in the Internet Governance issue and we were fortunate to have many senior speakers on the subject, including Ambassador Daniel Sepulveda from the United States. Participants found the three days of discussion very interesting and have asked us to hold the events again. We are in the planning phases to hold the two events also in May 2015.
Alberto: As we look to the next 5-10 years, which regions or countries will be leading in ICT?
Fabio: I suspect that we shall not see many big changes in the rankings that we observe now. The early leaders, having tasted the benefits offered by the digital society, are likely to intensify their commitment. This is understandable, but is also likely to increase the gap between countries and between regions. More efforts to encourage countries to invest more in the digital economy will be needed, for instance, in the European Union. But it is quite possible that some emerging markets may surprise us.
– See more at: http://www.attglobalpolicy.com/5-questions-fabio-colasanti-international-institute-communications/#sthash.rHTyf3tY.dpuf