The EU Turns to Slovakia

It was a busy September in Slovakia. Several officials from EU Member States, European Institutions, and industry stakeholders attended the 2016 EU Digital Assembly to discuss and exchange ideas on Europe’s digital policy. It was one of a number of events on the digital economy held by the Slovak government during its Presidency of the Council of the EU. My AT&T colleagues and I had the opportunity to participate in a few of the discussions.

Following the Digital Assembly, the Slovak Presidency hosted the EU Transport and Telecommunications Attachés from 28 countries. Attachés participate in the activities of the EU Council working groups and other committee meetings, and consult with various EU institutions. While in Bratislava, the delegation stopped by our AT&T office and we had a discussion on cybersecurity and our Global Network Operations Center.

Earlier in the month, AT&T sponsored an event in Bratislava organized by AmCham Slovakia and the Slovak government on the future of the internet of things in Europe.

jvs_slovakia-iotAT&T’s John Vladimir Slamecka, our region president for global business solutions in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, delivered the keynote address. John highlighted how new solutions and technologies are opening up possibilities for a wide range of businesses and industries. Many European businesses working with AT&T are embracing the opportunities to connect more and more devices – including vehicles, shipping containers, elevators and more. It’s changing the way they operate and how they interact with customers.

Connecting devices and things around the globe also raises important public policy questions. The AT&T Global SIM provides a single platform for devices giving our customers connectivity in +200 countries and territories. To provide this seamless connectivity around the globe, it’s important that we establish a comprehensive, coherent, and consistent policy framework to promote the internet of things worldwide.

Eric Loeb, AT&T’s senior vice president for international external and regulatory affairs, joined a panel discussion at the conference on regulation in the times of innovation. As Eric noted, our regulatory frameworks often don’t reflect our new world. He suggested a few priorities to keep in mind including: creating the conditions necessary for private-sector deployment of the next-generation broadband to support ubiquitous connectivity, establishing a consistent and balanced policy framework, and collaborating with the private sector to build consumer trust.

Some European governments are preparing for these transformative opportunities. We’re seeing it in Germany and Belgium and at BEREC and CEPT. Each has made decisions – working with industry stakeholders – to avoid a one-size-fits-all model or rigid country-specific numbering requirements. By taking this approach, they’re giving businesses the opportunity to choose between various available options for numbering and device management operations. All of this helps drive innovation and adoption.

The internet of things can have a significant impact on growing the digital economy. Many thanks to AmCham Slovakia and the Slovak government for hosting a successful and informative event. It’s been an exciting time in Bratislava. We look forward to working with policymakers and stakeholders across the EU to drive the growth of technology.