THE BLOG

Is the U.S. Opening the Door for Europe to Lead in Tech?

04/03/2015 12:30 GMT | Updated 03/05/2015 10:59 BST

This week, more than 80,000 people gathered in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress. Leaders from across the mobile industry will come together to discuss how we're on the "Edge of Innovation" and the endless possibilities the mobile Internet creates.

Over the past several years, the mobile Internet and connectivity have changed our lives. It started in the U.S. where a light-touch regulatory approach combined with an investment-friendly environment enabled providers to deploy next-generation infrastructure and entrepreneurs to create new businesses from Facebook to Uber and more. We've seen other regions look to replicate this success.

Thanks to this light-touch regulation, the market has a strong increase and the sector is leading in the creation of new high-skilled jobs. The market capitalization of the first three companies born due to this infrastructure development reached 1342 billion of dollar (February 2015).

Unfortunately, as we enter one of the largest events of the year for the mobile industry, we're also seeing the beginning of the downfall of U.S. Internet policy.

Last Thursday, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Tom Wheeler, introduced a regulatory framework that place the Internet under heavy regulation created in the 1930s. The FCC took unilateral decision to change the way the U.S. Internet is regulated despite the possibility for bipartisan legislation in the U.S. Congress to update the country's communications laws.

The U.S.'s new approach of prescriptive regulations on the Internet- created by one agency - threaten its position as a leader in the mobile revolution and the direction of the rest of the world. For 20 years, U.S. Internet policy was the gold standard. It led to massive investments in infrastructure and drove innovation. Europe and the rest of the world are still trying to catch-up.

Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama criticised Europe for trying to rein in the power of U.S. tech companies on the continent. It's an interesting criticism given his strong push to have the FCC regulate U.S. Internet companies. So now it's OK for the U.S. to create burden some regulations in their country but Europe should make everything flexible for them. The U.S. also criticises Russia and China for creating unnecessary regulations making it more difficult to deploy new services but the U.S. can create all the unnecessary regulations they want? It's a risky precedent.

In a White House's report on "Four Years of Broadband Growth", they highlight the annual investment in U.S. wireless networks. It grew more than 40% between 2009 and 2012, from $21 billion to $30 billion, and exceeds investment by the major oil and gas or auto companies in the country. The report also notes that investment in European wireless networks remained flat during the same period.

Why did FCC and U.S. President Barack Obama want to change such successful policies? Without a doubt, we can expect years of litigation in the U.S. on this issue and it will have an impact on the global Internet ecosystem.

The Silicon Valley cluster was born in USA also thanks to the light-touch regulation. Over regulation could lead USA to lose the world leadership the IT sector.

On the positive side, it opens the door for Europe to once again become the leader in the technology sector.