Planning and Future Trends

The Planning and Future Trends Working Group (PFT WG) plays the crucial role of looking at potential trends and issues emerging in electronic communications relevant to the Body of European Regulator for Electronic Communication’s (BEREC’s) mandate. The PFT WG is also involved in the procedure of drafting the BEREC Work Programme. The international and inter institutional cooperation of BEREC is also part of this group’s day to day work.

Working Group Co-Chairs

The image shows Bert Klaassens, Co-chair of the BEREC Planning and Future Trends Working Group
The image shows Maria Ruiz Merida, Co-chair of the BEREC Planning and Future Trends Working Group

Bert Klaassens

ACM, the Netherlands

María Ruiz Merida

CNMC, Spain

Work in 2023

In 2023, the PFT WG will continue working on related topics, based on the BEREC Work Programme 2023.

Report on cloud services and edge computing

One of the 2030 targets included in the Digital Compass: The European way for the Digital Decade Communication is that 75% of the European enterprises use cloud computing services, big data and Artificial Intelligence (AI). This objective forecasts a significant growth of these services as, according to Eurostat’s data, only 36% of European Union enterprises used cloud services in 2020, mostly for simple services such as e-mail and storage of files. At the same time, the European Commission (EC) has put forward the ambition of looking at new digital opportunities and trends, such as the metaverse. Cloud and edge computing are, among other technologies, key enablers of these developments.

In this context, BEREC considers that there is merit in assessing the provision of cloud and edge computing services. Among other issues, the report will map the different providers within the Internet Ecosystem. The competition implications of the increasing concentration of the public cloud market in Europe will be taken into account. The report will also consider the role of Internet Service Providers and other providers in the value chain for the provision of the services as well as the bundles of cloud and edge computing services with business Electronic Communication Services (ECS) and Electronic Communication Networks (ECN).

External study on the trends and policy/regulatory challenges of cloudification, virtualisation and softwarisation in telecommunications

Cloud services are increasingly important in the most sectors, including the telecoms. In the case of telecommunications, the cloudification of network elements have been enabled by some fundamental technological developments: Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV). These technologies are expected to induce several implications on the Telecommunications landscape. In 2016, BEREC organised a public expert workshop on regulatory implications of SDN and NFV. In 2022, BEREC organised a workshop on Open Radio Access Network that addressed some parts of these topics as well. An overall study of the trends however is yet to be conducted. In this context, BEREC will contract a study to gather current trends in the provisioning of ECN and ECS and help to identify possible regulatory and policy challenges arising from therefrom. The general objective of the external study is to describe the current technical and market trends, including competitive dynamics along the value chain, in the provisioning of electronic communications networks and services stemming from the virtualisation and cloudification of network elements and gather the relevant information to identify possible regulatory and policy challenges arising therefrom. In this context, cybersecurity and sustainability issues would be taken into consideration as well.

This study, which may also highlight specific use cases, could better inform other work conducted by BEREC, such as the report on cloud services and edge computing and the report on the entry of large content and application providers into the markets for ECN and ECS.

Report on the impact of Artificial Intelligence solutions in the telecommunications sector on regulation

It is expected that AI, with the support of 5G and Internet of Things (IoT), together referred to as ‘intelligent connectivity’, will enable new use cases in a number of vertical sectors such as energy supply, transportation, industrial automation and healthcare. In practice, there are already use cases of AI for network automation, network optimisation, preventive maintenance and also to provide virtual assistance for customer support.

This insight will help anticipate the effects of AI on the Digital Single Market and the regulation of electronic communications. BEREC seeks to determine how AI may impact ECN and ECS by first looking into different use cases in the telecommunications sector. This study is a first step towards this goal, and it will seek to identify those solutions/use cases which fall within BEREC’s remit and gain a high-level understanding of the possible impact of these solutions on regulation. Moreover, the information collected will then be analysed to determine the opportunities and challenges which BEREC must take into consideration in its future work and will help BEREC identify the role it can play with the commercial uptake of AI solutions in the telecoms sector.

BEREC external workshop on the perspectives and regulatory/competition challenges of Internet of Things

BEREC will organise a workshop with the twofold purpose of reviewing the state of play of IoT services and discussing emerging regulatory/competition challenges for IoT services in view of 5G and 6G.

BEREC’s input to the EU institutions on the Data Act

In 2022, the EC published a legislative proposal for a Regulation on harmonised rules about fair access to and use of data: the Data Act.

In the same year, BEREC published a general statement BoR (22) 54 on the draft Data Act and a High-Level Opinion BoR (22) 118 on the ECs proposal for a Data Act. BEREC expressed its availability to engage with the legislators as well as cooperate with other relevant competent bodies to participate actively in the legislative process and to provide its input and opinions. The deliverables will be adapted according to the process and timing set by the legislators. For instance, a workshop on the switching and interoperability of data processing aspects of the Data Act will be organized to, among other objectives, foster a constructive dialogue with stakeholders (including providers and users), competent authorities and legislators for the implementation of the Data Act provisions.

Why is this important?

The PFT Working Group support National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) gaining a broader and forward-looking perspective on very diverse areas in the digital ecosystem. Although the issues addressed by the group are not normally linked to an immediate regulatory intervention, understanding the general trends of a sector such as electronic communications, that features constant change, is key for the design and the impact evaluation of NRAs regulatory activities. The PFT WG may additionally help identifying upcoming new bottlenecks and regulatory needs.