Neelie Kroes: We Will Not Restrict The Cloud, Nor Kill Roaming Cuts

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe’s Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Neelie Kroes is pushing ahead with roaming cuts – and seems to disagree with the UK government over public cloud

The UK government’s claims that the European Commission wants to establish “restrictive” public sector clouds are not true, vice-president of the European Commission Neelie Kroes told TechWeekEurope this morning. Nor has the Commission backtracked on plans to cut roaming charges at the wholesale level, Kroes said, despite recent reports suggesting it had.

Kroes, speaking at the Campus Party event at the O2 in London that kicked off today, said she wanted to push on with the formation of a single market, and that the cloud and telecoms industries should be part of that. She said there was much misunderstanding on both issues.

EU, Europe © Virginija Valatkiene Shutterstock 2012Cloud criticism ‘not fair’

It was not “fair to say” the European Commission was going to limit government clouds to a handful of technology vendor partners and lock out SMEs or smaller players, Kroes said. “No way is it focused on a couple of big clouds, it is all of them,” she told TechWeek.

The former head of the G-Cloud, Denise McDonagh, said she was concerned about “restrictive” cloud ideas coming out of the EC, backing up the view of UK government deputy CIO Liam Maxwell. He fears the IT world’s “oligopoly” will benefit, whilst small players will fall. The G-Cloud has prided itself on being open to SME providers, with almost 75 percent of vendors on the framework being SME.

But Kroes said SMEs are “at the table” in talks about creating a more unified cloud infrastructure amongst public sector bodies of EU member states. Her idea is to link up public clouds and have one regulator watching over all of them, to establish secure infrastructure, as part of the pan-European Cloud Partnership.

Roaming charges ‘still facing cuts’

She also said claims the Commission had abandoned plans to continue cutting roaming charges were false, although she would not elaborate on details of the reports. She only said there remained a start date to enforce further cuts.

It had been thought the EC would impose a cap of three cents per minute for voice calls from July 2014 and a data cap of 1.5 cents per MB, but the exact timeline will now be explained in full next week.

Reports that the Commission was backtracking had blamed industry pressure from operators wanting to keep their revenues up. As a sponsor of Campus Party, O2 would not be drawn on that issue. Ronan Dunne, CEO of Telefonica UK, which runs the O2 brand, refused to say whether he believed the Commission had backtracked on roaming cuts thanks to industry pressure.

“Neelie has to comment on what the European Commission wants to do,” Dunne told TechWeek. “All of us are making sure our customers are getting compelling value.”

Dunne does support the Commission’s push for a single market, however, and a pan-European operator. “Europe needs European champions,” he added. ” The reality is that the EU market place is not delivering what it should.”

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