Meeting with Stephen Carter, UK Minister for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting

02 March 2009 Author: EIFonline

Lord Carter, the UK Minister for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting visited EIF for a dinner debate on March 2 to share his views on the opportunities for Europe to be proactive in the internet society and about a new UK report called 'Digital Britain'.

"Digital Britain" tries to identify how to create the right conditions for next generation network capability for wired and wireless networks and poses questions on how to build a legal framework that will allow right-holders to accommodate their interests while at the same time keeping the interest of consumers, who today can get any type of content anywhere on the Net. The 'Digital Britain' view is that this should be a universal proposition.

The "big prize" for governments, according to Mr. Carter, would be the digital delivery of public services, of making sure people have access to information, and to put them in control of the services they are getting. Many of these ideas have already transformed businesses, but not yet governments nor the delivery of public services, and this is crucial he said. The minister remarked that in that sense these networks are failing to deliver what should truly be the basis for them.

He emphasized that the EU has a tremendous chance with agreeing on a European framework for this sector right here and now, but that this will not happen if there is no common view on why this industry sector is so important. The minister continued by saying that we can have the ambition of having a strong European Internal Market but that we then must provide the means to businesses to have a harmonized market. Only this will allow Europe to compete on an international level.

Google does not have to ask 27 countries for permission nor 52 US States and that is the same for every American player. Mr. Carter put forward that some people see the next phase of the Internet as taking it away from American control. And if they do see it that way, he continued, then there is no better way for the EU than to give people a platform to exploit the potential of a major developed market outside the US: namely Europe.

Mr. Carter highlighted that the businesses in the Internet sector that are looking outwards are logically not going to be the broadcasters or the content providers because they are -historically- focused on national culture and territory. Instead, the ones that will be looking outward are going to be the network businesses, the application business, the service providers, the equipment manufacturers; and Europe should ensure a level playing field for these businesses.

In his closing remarks, Mr. Carter said that Europe has the opportunity to get it right in the forthcoming Framework Directive, but only if we let go of reservations and decisions taken on the basis of protection. We should imagine that we do get it right this time with 4G, Next Generation Networks or Universal Service -to name but a few-, and move towards fully interoperable Internet at high speed. 

To see Stephen Carter talking about the Digital Britain project on YouTube CLICK HERE.




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