ZF Digital Summit is an event that brought together every year the most important leaders of the telecom and hi-tech industry in Romania. In the context of the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, areas such as IT, technology and communications have become for many companies the decisive factor in the direction of capitalization and profitability, or to an end of activity. For Romania, this period revealed a number of problems, such as the discrepancy between large cities and rural areas in terms of high-speed internet access and high-performance computing equipment. Due to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, the functioning of schools, businesses and the administration is conditioned by this kind of equipment and fast internet connection.
The 2020 edition of the ZF Digital Summit brings to the fore the conclusions drawn as a result of this crisis period, focusing on the strategic digitalization plan that Romania should have for the next period, ie administration, business, schools and users. In order for this plan to be implemented more efficiently, telecom operators have emphasized the need for an European Telecom Code that does not exclude any player from the local market. The role of this Code is to create a harmonized market for consumers in the European Union and to correlate the evolution of these exchanges of products and services.
In order to maintain Romania’s advantage in the telecom industry, the government must ensure that the implementation of 5G technology becomes a success story that harnesses its potential. In this sense, Liudmila Climoc, CEO Orange Romania, points out that competition is essential for operators to ensure competitive prices and efficiency in network investments. Especially in a market where telecom leaders have completed the development process of 5G networks that are ready to be implemented. This regulation framework, especially unclear for the 5G tender procedure, must permit for the telecom market to be competitive. Liudmila Climoc said that as a company operating in Romania, we will comply with national legislation, as decided by the authorities, but if some of the vendors are excluded it will have a major impact on our finances and operations and ultimately on consumers. Clarity in the application of 5G security law is indispensable, and it should rely on the EU 5G toolkit. Of course, the industry must be supported by the government in accordance with the impact of this law.
Murielle Lorillox, CEO Vodafone Romania, supported this view and said during the conference that the regulatory and legislative framework should be simplified to facilitate the launch of this technology. The transfer from 4G to 5G is essential at a time when most interactions have moved digitally, and this need will be felt even more strongly if a new quarantine is imposed. Moreover, Romania must maintain the quality of services and competitiveness in this sector. And this is likely to be affected by the exclusion of Huawei from the telecom market. More precisely, the operators, the country’s economy and the citizens of Romania will be affected. The focus must be on the speed with which the new changes will be implemented, their scope, financial impact, quality of services and impact on competition.
Miroslav Majoros, CEO Telekom Romania, emphasizes that banning Huawei is strictly a political issue, which we must live and comply with. It is important that the impact is not felt by customers. Miroslav explains the current situation using an analogy to a car brand that is banned, and a third of all car owners are forced to replace their vehicles. This could be a real consequence of excluding a supplier from the market, and as a political decision, it should have political consequences in terms of compensation for operators.
The common view of local telecom representatives is that in order to make improvements in this sector, national changes must be kept to a minimum. The Telecom Code should strengthen the regulatory framework to encourage the development of infrastructure and the shared use of resources, to improve access to services for consumers. Finally, the Telecom Code will reassure that the long-term investments of the operators will be useful and will have a positive impact on the telecommunications market.