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European IoT Players Concerned About Rules Overhaul

Claim proposed regulations could ‘hold back’ the sector’s growth

May 11, 2017 | Media

A trio of industry groups is calling on the European Commission to make changes to an overhaul of regulations governing the internet of things (IoT), citing concerns that they might hamper the sector’s growth.

Expected to be implemented by the end of 2017, the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) will establish new EU-wide rules on how the region’s telecom industry should be regulated. It seeks to bring current EU rules up to date by accounting for new technological developments since 2009, when the regulations were last modified.

A joint statement released May 10 by the European Commission-initiated Alliance for Internet of Things Innovation (AIOTI), mobile service provider trade group GSMA and international broadband cable TV association umbrella organization Cable Europe stated that the EECC as currently proposed “potentially holds back Europe’s opportunity to lead in IoT.”

The trio is recommending changes to the proposed EECC in order to made its rules “a fit-for-purpose and future-proof regulatory framework.”

For instance, they argue that rules governing internet access or communications would be “overly restrictive and disproportionate when applied to IoT services” like connected refrigerators and pet trackers, and as a result “would hold back innovation.”

Smart-Home Device Revenues Worldwide, by Region, 2015-2030 (billions)

Instead, they want to exclude IoT devices from instances where the communication features of a device are a “minor ancillary feature.” That same exemption allows, for example, an elderly person to press a button on an IoT device to notify a friend in the event of an emergency.

The push for new regulations to govern IoT devices in Europe is timely. Consumers there have been quick to add such devices to their lives.

Sales revenues from smart-home devices in Europe, for example, have grown at a similar rate with those in North America and Asia-Pacific, according to data from A.T. Kearny. By 2020, the region is projected to account for roughly 27% of the $55 billion in worldwide smart-home device revenues, second only to North America’s 31% share.

IoT-related regulations aren’t the only worries that industries have with the EECC. Earlier this month the GSMA and the European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association (ETNO), an organization representing Europe’s telecommunications network operators, expressed concerns that some EECC language would hamper efforts to meet EU goals for 5G rollout.

—Cliff Annicelli

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