Given her track record, Neelie Kroes, the European Commission's vice president for the Digital Agenda, and scourge of Europe's mobile operators, was never going to step down from her post quietly.
And she didn't.
Having had responsibility for the Europe's "digital economy," including regional telecom and online regulations, since early 2010, Kroes has implemented a series of regulations and made numerous decisions that have directly affected the business, operations and strategies of communications service providers, mostly notably the reduction of mobile data roaming charges, announcements on net neutrality and marketing transparency, and her quest to introduce a single telecom services market. (See Eurobites: Red-Letter Day for Roaming Charges, Continental Shift, EC Nixes Pure Net Neutrality and Reding Replaced as Europe's Telecom Watchdog.)
Now a new set of commissioners are rotated in for a new "term" at the European Commission, Kroes bid the telecom sector farewell on Wednesday, and did so with a verbal kick to the collective cojones of Europe's telcos.
She attended a conference organized by European Telecommunications Network Operators' Association (ETNO) , the industry association that represents the region's major telcos, and witnessed the unveiling of ETNO's "Agenda for Europe," which calls for an "ambitious reform of current policy." (See ETNO Unveils 'Agenda For Europe'.)
Then Kroes took to the stage and fired thunderbolts into the crowd, starting her speech -- "Adapt or die: What I would do if I ran a telecom company" -- by noting that "sometimes I think the telecoms sector is its own worst enemy," before adding that the telecom sector's representatives in the room were "probably all looking forward to the very near future ... when you won't have to put up with me anymore."
Cue uncomfortable shuffling in seats...
She told the telcos that they "have to change" and be ready for a world set to be dominated by the cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT), big data and 5G. "What is the telecoms sector's relationship to that digital future?" she asked. "Will you be leading us there? Or will you be dragged along behind, against your will, resisting until the last?"
And while the telcos were still smarting at that virtual dig in the ribs, Kroes proceeded to tell them "how I'd steer a telco through dynamic digital developments."
So, what did she have to say? It's worth reading her speech, even though she didn't actually tell the telcos exactly what she would do if she was running a Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) or Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD).
Read the Kroes speech in full on the next page.
Next page: The Kroes speech in full.
— Ray Le Maistre, , Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading