It wouldn't be Mobile World Congress without a number of the world's biggest telecoms executives using it as a platform to air their grievances with regulatory regimes. On Monday morning it was the European CEOs who were particularly vocal, bringing various issues to the table, chief among which was the need for policy makers to encourage investment by allocating spectrum in a fair and transparent manner.
″It is critical that we acquire additional spectrum, via an economically-viable allocation,″ said Telecom Italia CEO and chairman of the GSMA, Franco Bernabe in his opening keynote address.
″The future of mobile depends on operators having timely″ spectrum access; ″we clearly require more spectrum [for LTE],″ he said.
″The mobile industry is still burdened by outdated regulation...Regulators should adopt a light-touch approach,″ he said. ″Governments should avoid imposing excessive burdens on the industry in the form of specific taxes,″ and excessive spectrum fees.
It was a theme taken up by many of the big names who followed Bernabe on stage.
Telefonica CEO Cesar Alierta was particularly keen to share his views on the inequalities that have emerged in the industry.
″Non-regulated dominant positions have emerged. This is not good,″ he said, referring to Google in the search space, the Android and iOS smartphone duopoly, and the likes of Facebook and WhatsApp.
Telcos pay an ″enormous amount in taxes and spectrum [fees]... [while] others pay nothing at all,″ Alierta said. ″It's not sustainable.″
He pointed out that operators have invested €225 billion in Europe in the past five years and yet are still constrained by regulation and by closed ecosystems.
When it comes to spectrum allocation, ″the U.K. sent a very clear message,″ he said. The country raised £2.34 billion from the sale of 800-MHz and 2.6-GHz bandwidth last week, more than £1 billion less than the government had hoped for. ″These savings will allow us to innovate...instead of taking money out of the industry to achieve fiscal growth.″
Vittorio Colao's Vodafone was one of the operators that won spectrum in that auction, and he too touched on the area of spectrum allocation in his presentation on Monday. Amongst other things, Colao criticised