Regulators must back IoT innovation to help Europe make up lost ground, says Arcep chair

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The Internet of Things is an opportunity for Europe to catch up on ground lost during the smartphone era, but only if the right frameworks are place, the chairman of French regulator Arcep has claimed.

In an article on the regulator's website, S├ębastian Soriano urged fellow regulators to "invent a pro-innovation approach" to shape the IoT within Europe.

He said: "What I want to underline, is that IoT is also a key issue for the competitiveness of the European continent. Europe has great telecom networks and industries.

"But we have been lagging behind in the age of smartphones and platforms. IoT is thus a real opportunity for Europe to come back at the front edge of the Tech sector."

Following the establishment of cellular competition in the late 1990s, Soriano said the IoT amounted to the second wave of competition and added regulators needed to be prepared for it.

He said: "IoT will be a true revolution in the telecom ecosystem. Radio technologies, chipsets, sensors and devices, backhauling, data management, security, operating systems, everything is being challenged.

"IoT could be a completely different story than the mobile one, especially as regards business models (B2C and even more B2B). In such a complex context, it's my belief that solutions will come from entrepreneurs and startups, not mainly from incumbent players... and even less from regulators."

He said regulators should be prepared to "open the door" to any entrepreneurial projects, no matter the size of the player involved, and lower barriers to entry, such as fostering access to unlicensed spectrum and infrastructure.

[Read more: France to open civil infrastructure to operators]

The next generation of telecoms requires a rethink of how regulators operate and sometimes will require them to do nothing, according to Soriano. He said: "It's about letting go, accepting the bazar and forget about the cathedral. It's about keeping eyes open, for sure on threats but even more so on opportunities. Pro-innovation regulation is definitely about hope."