The Evolution of the EU Telecommunications Policy: Missing Link with a Sustainable Society?
Posted: 6 Apr 2012
Date Written: April 3, 2012
Climate change is perhaps the most critical issue of humankind at this time, being one of the most profound challenges ever to have confronted social, political, and economic systems. The consequences of many disasters for example, Hurricane Katrina in the US in 2005, Tsunami in Japan in 2011, or the biggest snow storm in Eastern Europe in 2012 affect the whole system of a society which may not be able to recover in a short term. Instead, it calls for an attention from every part of society that the nature is at risk and needs to be protected.
Even though there is no unified solution for this severity, scale, and complexity, telecommunications networks are being realized as a technology that can help reducing energy consumptions in other sectors such as transport. However, according to International Energy Agency, the energy consumptions from the ICT equipments are increasing over the years. Nevertheless, research points out that different telecommunications technology has different levels of energy consumptions. Thus, the questions arise, as to how telecommunications policy has incorporated green IT and to what extent the present regulatory and policy model has been able to deal with this issue.
The case study of this paper is the evolution of the EU telecommunications policy since 1987 up until present. Changing from a closed monopolistic system to a more open system through liberalization mechanisms, results in a high growth of telecommunications penetration in the EU. However, the environmental issue may require another set of policy instruments, less suitable under the existing of telecommunications policy framework which is based much on competition mechanisms.
Against this background, the paper will address the importance of the environmental issue in relation to telecommunications policy evolution in the EU. Then, the paper will analyze the main characteristics of the present EU regulatory and policy model and how the issue of environmental protection has been incorporated over time. Literature reviews on different levels of energy consumptions in different telecommunications technology will also be presented. In conclusion, the paper will point out the major obstacles of the existing EU telecommunication policy model in dealing with environmental issue, and possible ways forward.
Keywords: The EU, Regulatory structure, Telecommunications network, Sustainability
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