Telecom, media & the speed of change

I spent a couple weeks in Miami last month attending events focused on Latin America, including the IIC’s Telecom and Media Forum and a meeting hosted by OTI — the Ibero-American Telecommunications Organization.

Discussions ranged from the evolution of content in digital and the new media landscape to infrastructure and investment needs and the digital economy. And, how public policy and regulatory frameworks can support this growth in consumer demand for connectivity. Both events were well represented by the leaders in the industry, policymakers and academics representing region — and Europe and the United States

AT&T’s Bob Quinn, our senior executive vice president for External and Legislative Affairs, provided the opening keynote at the Telecom & Media Forum. I think he clearly summed up where the industry is going and where our focus should be from a policy perspective. He noted:

“It’s about choices — in content, in services, in providers and giving consumers what they want — full-bodied content on multiple devices, now and into the future. Given the rapid evolution of technology, it is critical that we set out high-level principles for international cooperation that can adapt with the pace of technology.”

A few themes that I felt emerged overall from both events …

The impact of technology on telecom & media.

Customers value seamlessly integrated communications services. They want control and simplicity. They want the content they want anytime they want it. Providers today must continue to transform to a new and different place to give our customers what they want. To accomplish that, we must design and deliver an experience end to end.

Need for future-focused policies.

The industry is converging and reinventing itself, but often current regulatory frameworks can’t keep up with the pace of this new world. We should ensure that regulatory frameworks are flexible enough to allow for new technologies or new industries to pop up — one that looks at the ecosystem overall. Technology is changing too quickly for a rigid system.

Value of harmonization across regions.

As the desire for ubiquitous connectivity increases, the need for seamless access to content across borders will also grow. Regulatory predictability drives investment. Economies of scale improve efficiency and velocity in deployment. All of this contributes to better value for customers — competitive pricing and cycles of innovation.

As we go forward, we can expect to continue to see these trends and regulatory issues, so it’s important that we work together to determine best practices.

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