Cable needs regulatory clarity on who pays for bandwidth, say CEOs

European cable operators need to be able to protect their investment and find ways to make sure that they are paid for access to their broadband networks, according to CEOs speaking at the Cable Congress event in London this morning.

Berit Svendsen, executive vice-president and CEO, Telenor Norway, said that traffic on her company’s network was going up by 50% each year but revenues were not going up at the same rate. There was a need for predictable regulation that gave operators an incentive to invest going forwards. “We should not be in a situation where our networks become commoditised,” she said.

Svendsen said that cable and OTT providers had not found a workable business model that would allow them to work together up to now.

Annet Aris, member of the board of  of Kabel Deutschland and adjunct professor at INSEAD, said that there was a need to work out at a regulatory level how to pay for broadband and access to the network. “Rather than micro-regulation, regulators need to look at the big picture,” she said. There was a need to identify how the use of data networks to deliver content should be paid for, she said. “It is important to put a price tag on [internet use] and make people conscious of what they use and what the cost is.”

Miranda Curtis, member of the board at Liberty Global, speaking on the same panel session, said that operators needed “partnership relationships” with content suppliers and regulators. “Scale is crucial if we are to make these investments,” she said. “Scale and continuing investment are the essential prerequisites.”

Curtis said that people working in the cable industry had to “look at every aspect of the value chain”. Having more or less completed its investment in networks, it had to look at customer service and the customer interface, she said.

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