A single European Telecoms Market v. The Global Internet

Yesterday the European Commission published its plans for a Single European Telecommunications Market . Meanwhile the Internet faced a “Bretton Woods Moment” .

The Bretton Woods Conference, which created the world systems for commercial and financial management was even less well reported in the world press in July 1944 than the

Internet Governance Forum on Rio de Janeiro that is happening this week. But the consequences of the IGF meeting are likely to be at least as profound.

Three years ago China decided not to split the Internet but to work through its technical structures and help drive the implementation of IPV6 – at breathtaking pace. Last week the Chinese virtual reality industry took over the Great Hall of the People (where the Chinese Communist Party Congress was held last month) for their state of the art conference, putting the final touches to that which is to be launched during the run-up to the Olympics.

In February the main meeting of ICANN will be in New Delhi in February. Next summer the Beijing Olympics will see as big a leap forward in communications technologies as did the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 – the original test-bed for the Internet technologies in a performance critical demonstration of capability.

This week half the EURIM board is in Rio helping politically position the UK to have a leading role as the Internet makes the transition from US leadership to global partnership. Next week I expect my diary to go beserk when they return and I have to help turn the rhetoric of UK leadership into reality.

Time is not on our side. Unless we move rapidly and effectively to exploit and build on the reputation of London as a multi-cultural centre where you can do business in whatever language and under whatever jurisdiction you wish – and therefore a natural hub for truly international Internet businesses – our future is bleak.

A single European Telecoms Market will be merely a regional backwater unless it, like the City of London, is genuinely outward looking and global in its perspectives.