In this embodiment, a processor receives foot ground contact using an accelerometer. The stride pattern is determined, and the next foot ground contact is detected, and the piezo material is actuated with a counter signal to cancel the expected shock. In one hybrid embodiment, the shoes incorporate passive and active isolation elements.
The passive component consists of springs which support the load weight and provide isolation over a broad spectrum. These springs provide a basic level of isolation in the lower frequencies and excellent isolation in the higher frequencies above Hz. They also support the load while allowing for travel of the actuators in the active component. The performance of the springs is augmented and corrected by an active isolation component.
The active isolation component consists of vibration sensors, control electronics, and actuators. The vibration sensors are piezo accelerometers. A plurality of sensors in each isolation system are positioned in different orientations to sense in all six degrees of freedom.
The piezo accelerometers convert kinetic vibration energy into electrical signals which are transmitted to the control electronics. The electronics reconcile and process the signals from the various sensors using a processor. The electronics then send a cancellation signal to the actuators. The actuators generate vibrations that are equal to the incoming vibrations but out of phase in relation to the incoming vibrations.
This results in cancellation of the incoming vibrational noise, leaving the wearer undisturbed. This process occurs within milliseconds of a vibration entering the system. The IoT machines can negotiate contracts on their own without human and exchange items of value by presenting an open transaction on the associated funds in their respective wallets.
Blockchain token ownership is immediately transferred to a new owner after authentication and verification, which are based on network ledgers within a peer-to-peer network, guaranteeing nearly instantaneous execution and settlement. A similar process is used to provide secure communications between IoT devices, which is useful for edge IoT devices. The industrial world is adding billions of new IoT devices and collectively these devices generate many petabytes of data each day.
Sending all of this data to the cloud is not only very cost prohibitive but it also creates a greater security risk. Operating at the edge ensures much faster response times, reduced risks, and lower overall costs. Maintaining close proximity to the edge devices rather than sending all data to a distant centralized cloud, minimizes latency allowing for maximum performance, faster response times, and more effective maintenance and operational strategies.
In addition to being highly secure, the system also significantly reduces overall bandwidth requirements and the cost of managing widely distributed networks. In some embodiments, the described technology provides a peer-to-peer cryptographic currency trading method for initiating a market exchange of one or more Blockchain tokens in a virtual wallet for purchasing an asset e.
In various embodiments, in response to verifying via the two-phase commit that the virtual wallet has a sufficient quantity of Blockchain tokens, the IoT machine purchases or initiates a process in furtherance of purchasing the asset with at least one of the Blockchain tokens. In one or more embodiments, if the described technology determines that the virtual wallet has insufficient Blockchain tokens for purchasing the asset, the purchase is terminated without exchanging Blockchain tokens.
The system has a contract management system CMS that helps users in creating smart contracts for deployment. After template creation, FIG. In one embodiment, the functionality of the flow diagram of FIG. In other embodiments, the functionality can be performed by hardware, or any combination of hardware and software. A smart contract is a computerized transaction protocol that executes the terms of a contract.
A smart contract can have the following fields: object of agreement, first party blockchain address, second party blockchain address, essential content of contract, signature slots and blockchain ID associated with the contract. Turning now to FIG. The system then retrieves the appropriate contract template for the user, and a user interface renderer displays the corresponding deal sheet user interface to the user.
The selection of the appropriate contract template can be based on many factors, including the role of the user, the intended parties to the contract, the type of contract desired, etc. At 4, the user enters the information that is requested by the user interface based on the attributes displayed. Because the user interface is tailored specifically to the desired type of contract, the required contract terms information for that type of contract will be entered by the user as guided by the attributes of the template.
The user may interact with the user interface through a single page or through multiple pages in a particular sequence with a forms wizard, or through the selection of tabs. In one embodiment, the user interface is rendered as a mark-up language such as XML showing the structure of the requirements of the contract.
In other embodiments, the user interface is rendered as an Excel worksheet, Word document, or other application compatible format that can be read by the contracting parties, lawyers, judges, and jury. At 6, the contract is generated based on the user input to the user interface. The contract can be in the form of bytecodes for machine interpretation or can be the markup language for human consumption.
At 8, the smart contract is assigned a unique block chain number and inserted into block chain. At 10, the smart contract is sent to one or more recipients, which open the payload and execute the terms of the contract and if specified contractual conditions are met, the smart contract can authorize payment. At 12, if dispute arise, the CMS can graphically decode the contract terms in the smart contract for a judge, jury, or lawyer to apply legal analysis and determine the parties' obligations.
In another aspect, a distributed file storage system includes nodes are incentivized to store as much of the entire network's data as they can. Blockchain currency is awarded for storing files, and is transferred in Bitcoin or Ether transactions, as in. Files are added to the network by spending currency. This produces strong monetary incentives for individuals to join and work for the network.
In the course of ordinary operation of the storage network, nodes contribute useful work in the form of storage and distribution of valuable data. In another aspect, a method for providing electronic content retrieval with cloud computing is provided. A first request message is received in real-time on the first cloud application stored on the cloud server network device with the one or more processors from a second cloud application.
The first request message includes a request for desired cloud electronic content stored in the plural cloud storage objects stored on the selected ones of the plural other different cloud server network devices located on one or more of the networks comprising the cloud communications network.
The plural different cloud storage objects function as a single secure storage object for electronic content on the cloud communications network. A cloud content location map is retrieved securely on the first cloud application on the cloud server network device. The cloud content location map includes address locations of the selected ones of the plural other different cloud server network devices on the cloud communications network.
The first cloud application on the cloud server network device sends plural second request messages for the desired cloud electronic content to the selected ones of the plural other different cloud server network devices identified in the retrieved cloud content location map and located on one or more of the public communication networks, the one or more private networks, community networks and hybrid networks comprising the cloud communications network.
The first cloud application on the first server network device combines the one or more individual components of the desired cloud electronic content from the plural cloud storage objects from the received plural response messages into a final desired electronic cloud content component.
The first cloud application on the cloud server network device securely sends in real-time the final desired cloud electronic content component as the request desired cloud electronic content to the target network device via the cloud communications network. To enable an IOT device such as a car or a robot to access cloud data securely, and to grant access right to agents of the IOT device such as media players in the car, for example, the following methods can be used: 1.
A method for accessing data, content, or application stored in a cloud storage, comprising: authorizing a first client device; receiving an authorization request from the first client device; generating an authorization key for accessing the cloud server and storing the key in a blockchain; providing the authorization key to the first client device; receiving the authorization key from an IOT device as a second client device working as an agent of the first client device; granting access to the second client device based on the authorization key; receiving a map of storage locations of cloud objects associated with an application or content, each storage location identified in a blockchain; and reassembling the application or content from the storage locations.
The method of claim 1 wherein the blockchain is decentralized and does not require a central authority for creation, processing or verification and comprises a public digital ledger of all transactions that have ever been executed on the blockchain and wherein new blocks are added to the blockchain in a linear, chronological order.
The method of claim 2 wherein the public digital ledger of the blockchain comprises transactions and blocks. The method of claim 3 wherein blocks in the blockchain record and confirm when and in what sequence transactions are entered and logged into the blockchain.
The method of claim 3 wherein transactions comprise desired electronic content stored in the blockchain. The method of claim 5 wherein the desired electronic content includes a financial transaction. The method of claim 1 wherein an identifier for the received one or more blocks in the blockchain includes a private encryption key.
The method of claim 1 wherein the modified Galois field GF pn provides a secure digital wallet for the one or more received blocks in the blockchain. The method of claim 1 , comprising determining a plurality of address locations includes determining a plurality of virtual cloud communication network addresses, a plurality of Internet Protocol IP addresses, a plurality of Medium Access Control MAC addresses, Transmission Control Protocol TCP port designations, User Datagram Protocol UDP port designations, other networking protocol port designations or a combination thereof, of the selected ones of the plurality of other cloud server network devices on the cloud communications network.
The method of claim 1 comprising securely storing the received one or more blocks in the blockchain in one or more cloud storage objects, in an encrypted format including using a Discrete Logarithm Integrated Encryption Scheme DUES , a Elliptic Curve Integrated Encryption Scheme ECIES , a user generated biometric encryption method, or a Homomorphic encryption method.
The method of claim 1 wherein the target network device, cloud server network device and one or more other cloud server network devices communicating with the cloud server network device include one or more wireless communications interfaces comprising: cellular telephone, The method of claim 1 wherein the target network device includes a mobile network device, smart network device or a wearable network device. The method of claim 1 wherein the cloud application offers a cloud computing Infrastructure as a Service IaaS , a cloud Platform as a Service PaaS and offers a Specific cloud software service as a Service SaaS including a specific cloud software service for storage and retrieval of the one or more received blocks in the blockchain.
The method of claim 1 wherein the cloud application, the cloud network server, the cloud target application and the target network devices and the cloud communications network are replaced with a peer-to-peer P2P applications, P2P network devices and a P2P communications network. The method of claim 1 further comprising: the blockchain defining cryptocurrency transactions, wherein a valid cryptocurrency transaction in the blockchain is digitally signed, electronically spends one or more unspent outputs of previous cryptocurrency transactions, and the sum of cryptocurrency transaction outputs does not exceed the sum of cryptocurrency transaction inputs on the blockchain.
The method according to claim 1 , comprising granting access to the second client device based on the authorization key comprises granting limited access limited in access type, number of accesses, data amount, access time, a pre-defined time period. The method according to claim 1 , comprising encrypting the authorization key subsequent to the step of generating an authorization key; and decrypting the authorization key after reception from the second client device.
The method of claim 1 , comprising sending an identification of a requested service of the cloud server; and accessing the requested service according to the identification of the requested service of the cloud server identified in the authorization key request. While Ethereum mentions smart contract, it is actually mentioning the use of executable codes on the blockchain.
For example, sell-side contracts may include contracts for selling products e. Other types of contracts may be needed to be created when purchasing products and services. Further, specialized contracts may need to be created for leases, loans, intellectual property acquisition, etc. When authoring contracts, different types of contracts likely require different types of information to be captured.
A generic contract authoring tool cannot easily accommodate creation of these different types of contracts in a simple user friendly manner. A template may be based on the type of contract being authored, or be tailored for a particular user role. The system generates a contract template designer user interface that provides the ability to create and modify these templates.
The template comprises a plurality of attributes organized in a predetermined and tailored way. The contract administrator may choose to create a template or modify an existing template. Modifying a template involves changing what attributes are included in the template and how they are organized.
The contract administrator can include all the attributes that define a certain type of contractual arrangement or a subset of them and organize them in the most logical way. When the template is used for authoring by an end user, the system renders a user interface based on the template to the end user.
The UI can operate with blockchains such as Bitcoin or Ethereum. The ledger stored on a blockchain is shared amongst a distributed network of computers. The use of cryptography enables users to modify the master ledger without the need for a central authority. With a blockchain there is no need for a central trusted authority or for intermediaries. The disintermediation of intermediaries can redefine the value chain in a wide range of industries, from financial services to media, and puts the power and value of data back in the hands of the people creating that data.
Blockchains can be public such as the Bitcoin blockchain or the Ethereum blockchain —these are effectively permissionless, or they can be private where access is restricted to a selected group of users. Advantages of the blockchain smart contract may include one or more of the following:. Preferably, the system uses Ethereum which has a complete programming language, sometimes called EtherScript.
Since most agreements involve the exchange of economic value, or have economic consequences, categories of public and private law are implemented using Ethereum. An agreement involving transfer of value can be precisely defined and automatically enforced with the same script. Smart contracts can have scriptable clauses that are executed in a runtime using the Ethereum environment in one example, and can have multiple parties, each with their own agents and asset accounts.
Funds transfers go through a controlled interface, with notices and receipts sent to all relevant parties. The script code is unable to manipulate any assets excepting those explicitly declared beforehand on the smart contract, and verified as valid property of a legitimate party to the contract by looking up ownership information in the blockchain, among others. And when funds are moved, it's to a contract-specific name, not an account ID.
For example, during an escrow, funds might be stashed inside the smart contract for 14 or 30 days, and then transferred to one party or another. Scripted clauses can also be configured to trigger on certain events. Variables can be defined in the smart contract, which persist through its entire lifetime. As the smart contract—including its internal state—continues to process over time, receipts will continue to drop into the relevant parties' inboxes, showing the change in state, in those variables, over time.
A general information region receives general information regarding the contract. Customer information region receives information about the customer that is purchasing the product, including customer contacts and blockchain address that can be added through an add contact button. Product information region receives information about the products, and additional products can be added through an add product button. Payment and other information region receives the financial information about the contract.
For example, a smart contract template is customized for a purchasing contract of a service by a buyer, and includes multiple regions that receive input from a user when preparing the contract. Template includes a requesting region for receiving information regarding the requesting buyer and a vendor region for receiving information on the vendor.
A scope of work region is used to receive information about the scope of the service that the vendor will provide. A payment region receives payment information and other information region receives other information.
In one embodiment, boxes pop up when a user selects one of the options of action box. The user can interface with the boxes to modify the contract templates. A UI box allows a user to add variables to the contract template. Properties can include specifying a prompt e.
In one embodiment, the various regions that form the template can be presented to the user when authoring a contract in a single page or can be individually presented to the user as separate tabs or in the form of a wizard that that asks for information in multiple pages in a particular sequence. Other properties can also be defined in box. A catalog items table list all items that can be selected and added to one of the regions of the contract template.
When an item is selected, a box allows certain properties about that item to be defined. When a contract template is created using contract template designer through interaction of the UIs shown, the template may be saved in database. Subsequently, user interface renderer may retrieve the template and display the template to an end user to input the required information in order to author the contract.
The type of template that is rendered to the end user may be determined automatically by the system based on various factors such as the type of contract being authored e. In one embodiment, the functionality of the flow diagram is implemented by software stored in memory and executed by a processor.
To set up, the contract administrator logs onto the template designer application and a previously created contract template designer UI is retrieved to be modified, or a new design is created. In one embodiment, the contract template designer UI is retrieved from database and displayed through an Internet browser to a user at a client computer.
The contract template designer UI includes user actions through a UI that allow attributes of the contract template to be customized for a specific type of contract. The system receives user attribute requests from the contract administrator and modifies the contract template accordingly. The attribute requests are generated by the contract administrator through various actions in the designer tool.
The modified contract template is stored in data catalog for later use in order to create the contract. In addition to Ethereum, other blockchain or globally shared, transactional database can be used. To change something in the database, the system creates a transaction which has to be accepted by all others.
It is not only sandboxed but actually completely isolated, which means that code running inside the EVM has no access to network, filesystem or other processes. Smart contracts have limited access to other smart contracts. There are two kinds of accounts in Ethereum which share the same address space: External accounts that are controlled by public-private key pairs i. Every account has a persistent key-value store mapping bit words to bit words called storage. A transaction is a message that is sent from one account to another account which might be the same or the special zero-account, see below.
It can include binary data its payload and Ether. If the target account contains code, that code is executed and the payload is provided as input data. If the target account is the zero-account the account with the address 0 , the transaction creates a new contract. The payload of such a contract creation transaction is taken to be EVM bytecode and executed.
The output of this execution is permanently stored as the code of the contract. This means that in order to create a contract, you do not send the actual code of the contract, but in fact code that returns that code. Upon creation, each transaction is charged with a certain amount of gas, whose purpose is to limit the amount of work that is needed to execute the transaction and to pay for this execution.
While the EVM executes the transaction, the gas is gradually depleted according to specific rules. Each account has a persistent memory area which is called storage. Storage is a key-value store that maps bit words to bit words. It is not possible to enumerate storage from within a contract and it is comparatively costly to read and even more so, to modify storage.
A contract can neither read nor write to any storage apart from its own. The second memory area is called memory, of which a contract obtains a freshly cleared instance for each message call. Memory is linear and can be addressed at byte level, but reads are limited to a width of bits, while writes can be either 8 bits or bits wide.
Memory is expanded by a word bit , when accessing either reading or writing a previously untouched memory word ie. At the time of expansion, the cost in gas must be paid. The EVM is not a register machine but a stack machine, so all computations are performed on an area called the stack. It has a maximum size of elements and contains words of bits. Access to the stack is limited to the top end in the following way: It is possible to copy one of the topmost 16 elements to the top of the stack or swap the topmost element with one of the 16 elements below it.
All other operations take the topmost two or one, or more, depending on the operation elements from the stack and push the result onto the stack. Of course it is possible to move stack elements to storage or memory, but it is not possible to just access arbitrary elements deeper in the stack without first removing the top of the stack.
The instruction set of the EVM is kept minimal in order to avoid incorrect implementations which can cause consensus problems. All instructions operate on the basic data type, bit words. The usual arithmetic, bit, logical and comparison operations are present. Conditional and unconditional jumps are possible.
Furthermore, contracts can access relevant properties of the current block like its number and timestamp. Contracts can call other contracts or send Ether to non-contract accounts by the means of message calls. Message calls are similar to transactions, in that they have a source, a target, data payload, Ether, gas and return data.
In fact, every transaction consists of a top-level message call which in turn can create further message calls. A contract can decide how much of its remaining gas should be sent with the inner message call and how much it wants to retain. If an out-of-gas exception happens in the inner call or any other exception , this will be signalled by an error value put onto the stack. In this case, only the gas sent together with the call is used up.
As already said, the called contract which can be the same as the caller will receive a freshly cleared instance of memory and has access to the call payload —which will be provided in a separate area called the calldata. After it finished execution, it can return data which will be stored at a location in the caller's memory preallocated by the caller.
With a message call, named delegatecall which is identical to a message call apart from the fact that the code at the target address is executed in the context of the calling contract and msg. Storage, current address and balance still refer to the calling contract, only the code is taken from the called address.
Contracts can create other contracts using a special opcode i. In 20 Buyer requests to obtain the service or item from the service or item provider. In 24 Item provider utilizes the blockchain system described above and generates a cryptographic key pair and in 26 the service or item provider embeds the key data in the service or item.
In 28 the service or service or item provider stores the private key in association with an entity credential in the database. In 30 a third party validates the terms of the smart contract with the private key. In 32 the blockchain or shared ledger is analyzed to determine if key data was used and if contractual terms are satisfied according to contract law expert system and if so mark the satisfaction of the contract terms.
The system includes a seller, provider or Offeree machine , an Offeror machine or buyer , and a financial system providing at least one store of value The Offeree machine possesses, controls or otherwise has access to a service, product or item which is to be made available to the Offeror machine upon acceptance In the embodiment of FIG. The Offeror machine or buyer has an electronic computing device , in this embodiment a desktop computer, by which it is able to communicate with the service or item provider Communications between the service or item provider and the electronic computing device of the authorized entity may be effected by way of any suitable wired or wireless communications channel.
In this embodiment, the communications channel is the Internet. The Offeree machine or seller has associated therewith an item receiving module configured to receive the online service software, music, video,. The key data is associated with the store of value and usable to conduct a transaction against the store of value , a record of such a transaction becoming visible in a transaction ledger One of the contracting parties, for example the Offeror machine or buyer , has associated therewith a monitoring module configured to monitor the transaction ledger to determine whether a transaction against the store of value has occurred, and a designation module in communication with the monitoring module and configured to designate the item as accessed by a third party in the event that a transaction against the store of value has occurred.
A database is operative in association with the item provider The database is configured to store the key data embedded in the service or item or data at least partially derived therefrom in association with an entity credential of the authorized entity which is authorized to possess the service or item At a first stage , the buyer requests to obtain the service or item from the service or item provider For example, the buyer accesses a website of the provider using the electronic computing device and selects a custom app or video, for example, to purchase.
The key data which is to be embedded in the service or item is an identifier uniquely associated with the store of value The store of value has a balance of digital currency. The financial system of FIG. In this embodiment, the store of value is a blockchain address. Cryptocurrencies allow digital currency to be transferred between blockchain addresses without an intermediate financial institution or central authority.
In this embodiment, the blockchain address is represented by or derived from a blockchain public key corresponding to a blockchain private key. At a next stage , the item provider utilizes the blockchain system described above and generates a cryptographic key pair, in other words, a private key and a public key associated with a blockchain address In this embodiment, the service or item provider generates the key pair and transfers funds to the blockchain address The private key represents a direct monetary value which can be traded in the blockchain system.
In the case where the blockchain is, for example, Bitcoin or another blockchain system using a similar key and address scheme, the blockchain address has a particular balance associated therewith, indicated, for example, as 3. At a next stage , the service or item provider embeds the key data in the service or item using the embedding module The service or item receiving module typically receives the media item before the private key is embedded therein, from where it is transferred to the embedding module In this embodiment, the private key is embedded in the media item , which is an e-book, as a one-dimensional barcode At a next stage , the service or service or item provider stores the private key in association with an entity credential in the database , as described above.
In this embodiment, the entity credential includes a name, address and contact details of the authorized entity The database therefore acts as a registry of keys, enabling the item provider to keep track of which private keys are associated with which buyer The service or item is then, at a next stage , made available to the authorized entity In this embodiment, the authorized entity may typically be able to download the e-book and store it locally or in any physical or cloud-based storage location as desired.
Records of all transactions conducted in the financial system are held in the transaction ledger In the embodiment, the transaction ledger is a publicly visible shared transaction ledger. These transaction records are signed using both a private key and a public key, the private key being that of a party transferring value and the public key being associated with a receiving address.
The shared transaction ledger is typically publicly accessible via a website or other Internet-based platform. Exemplary cryptocurrencies which make use of proof-of-work verification schemes, such as Secure Hash Algorithm SHA or scrypt, are Bitcoin and Litecoin.
The principles and functioning of such cryptocurrencies having shared transaction ledgers containing transaction records will be well understood by those skilled in the art. Importantly, such a system allows a party having access to a private key or data at least partially derived therefrom to transact against a corresponding blockchain address, in other words, either use the funds linked to the address or transfer the funds to a receiving address.
These systems also allow any party to inspect or analyze the shared transaction ledger to determine whether a particular address was transacted against. The buyer is therefore provided with a service or item which has a reliable handle to a store of value embedded therein.
Furthermore, the transaction is visible in the shared transaction ledger , making the possibly fraudulent activity immediately or relatively quickly traceable. Upon verification, the payment for the completion of the contract term is automatically processed by the smart contract.
The flow diagram of FIG. At a first stage , the buyer makes an offer to buy under specific criteria services or items At a next stage , a third party verifier reviews the service or item and reads the private key from the media item In the example of an application or a custom video embedded with key data by way of a barcode described with reference to FIG.
The private key may be readable from the service or item by any third party that accesses the item either directly or using a software tool. The software tool may, for example, be a publicly available software tool. The third party verifies that the requirements for the term of the contract are satisfied and then, at a next stage , utilizes the blockchain system to move funds from the blockchain address corresponding to the private key to a desired address, or spends all or some of the funds in any other way.
Use of the private key , which serves as or may be derived from the key data uniquely associating the authorized entity with the service or item , may typically include use of the private key and a receiving public key to conduct a blockchain transaction against the blockchain address in favor of a receiving blockchain address. Such a transaction may involve transferring at least some of a balance of blockchain held at the blockchain address to a second, receiving blockchain address represented by or derived at least partially from a second, receiving blockchain public key.
The service or item provider or any other party fulfilling this function analyses the shared transaction ledger at a next stage to determine whether the private key was used to conduct a transaction. In this case, due to the transaction conducted by the third party , the shared transaction ledger indicates, at a next stage , that the blockchain address was transacted against and therefore that the private key was used after validating the terms of the smart contract.
This prompts the item provider or other party managing the monitoring of the shared transaction ledger to designate the item terms as satisfactorily verified by a third party. The transaction record in the shared transaction ledger may be used by the item provider , or, of course, by any entity or agent monitoring the shared transaction ledger on behalf of the item provider , to extract, obtain or derive the private key , public key or simply the blockchain address.
The obtained information is matched with the key data stored in the database in association with the entity credential. In this way, the authorized entity may be unambiguously identified and the item provider is able to obtain payment pursuant to the smart contract. Such a derivation of the private key, for example a cryptographic hash thereof, may therefore be embedded in the service or item. Importantly, the key data embedded in the service or item includes the blockchain private key or an address identifier derived at least partially from the blockchain private key.
For example, the address identifier may be a link, a tool or any other identifier usable to obtain or access the private key. The service or item provider may, for example, be any media item or content provider or any digital or analogue media distributor. For example, the service or item provider may be a satellite television service provider, a broadcasting corporation, a physical music or video distributor, an author, a photographer, a composer, an artist, a software provider or a publisher.
The service or item provider may, in one scenario, be the author, creator or producer of the service or item, for example, in the case that the service or item provider is an artist. The service or item provider may, in a different scenario, be a distributor, retailer, or commercial service or item provider, for example, in the case that the service or item provider is a software provider.
The service or item provider may be any other suitable entity in cases where the service or item is not a media item. For example, the service or item provider may be a plant breeder, developer or researcher in cases where the service or item is a biological or genetic item. The service or item is not restricted to a media item and may be any item capable of being embedded with any form of data for the purpose of monitoring third party access to the service or item.
The service or item may be a physical item such as a book, a compact disc, a physical document, or a work of art, an electronic item such as digital media, a biological item such as a genetic sequence or biological matter, or any other item capable of being embedded with data.
Particularly, the service or item may be a digital media item or analogue media item. In cases where the media item is in a digital form, it may be, among many others, one or more video files, one or more audio files, one or more electronic document files, one or more electronic books, one or more textual media files, one or more computer program files, computer gaming files or data, streaming media, and one or more image files.
In cases where the media item is in analogue form, it may, for example, be one or more video recordings or one or more audio recordings. The media item may be textual media such as hypertexts, multimedia, digital art, e-mail, and the like. The electronic computing device is not limited to a desktop or personal computer and may be any other communications device with substantially similar communications abilities, such as a mobile phone, a tablet computer or a laptop computer. Communications between the service or item provider and the electronic computing device of the authorized entity may, in alternative embodiments, be effected by way of a voice call or a mobile software platform used to request the service or item from the service or item provider.
In further embodiments, the authorized entity may communicate with the service or item provider without using electronic communications means. The authorized entity may be any suitable entity, living or non-living, which is to receive the service or item from the service or item provider.
For example, the authorized entity may be a consumer, institution, group, organization, electronic platform, or database receiving the service or item from the service or item provider. It should be appreciated that the same service or item or copies or derivatives thereof may be provided to a plurality of authorized entities in further embodiments of the system.
Furthermore, the authorized entity may be an original owner, author or creator of the service or item or may otherwise have rights in respect of the service or item. The entity credential may be any suitable information serving to identify the authorized entity, for example, one or more of a name, an address, an e-mail address, a financial account number, a media service membership identifier, an identity number, contact details such as an a telephonic contact number, a physical address, employer information, details of a financial account and media service subscription information.
The key data may be any data or information capable of being used directly or indirectly to conduct a transaction against the store of value, either in the form in which it is embedded in the service or item or a form derived therefrom.
The key data may be stored in the database such that, when the key data embedded in the service or item or data derived therefrom is subsequently obtained by the service or item provider from a source other than the database, it is able to match the key data with the entity credential in the database in order to unambiguously identify the authorized entity.
Typically, the key data is subsequently obtained from a record of a transaction against the store of value from which the key data can be extracted or derived. The key data may be embedded in the service or item using any suitable information embedding technique, depending of course on the service or item type. In embodiments of the system, the key data is embedded using one or more of the following techniques: embedding the key data in the service or item using digital watermarking, embedding the key data in the service or item using analogue watermarking, embedding the key data in the service or item as a one-dimensional or two-dimensional barcode, embedding the key data in the service or item as a graphical code, embedding the key data in the service or item using steganography, embedding the key data in the service or item using natural language watermarking or natural language morphology, embedding the key data in the service or item using hidden text or invisible text or binary data embedding, and embedding the key data in the service or item using visible text or visible binary data embedding.
In some embodiments, the service or item is a biological or genetic item and the key data is embedded, for example, in a genetic sequence. A further example of an embedding technique is natural language watermarking or natural language morphology, whereby, for example, sentence construction of a document may be watermarked.
In one example, the structure of one or more sentence constituents in a natural language text may be used to insert a watermark into a document. Preferably, the key data is embedded using a robust technique, which makes it relatively easy to read or derive the private key, while completely removing, obscuring or obliterating the key data from the service or item is made comparatively difficult. In some embodiments, removing the key data from the service or item destroys the item, makes the value associated with the blockchain address unusable, materially alters the item's content or makes it subsequently unusable.
The scope of the system thus extends to any suitable information embedding technique. For example, the private key may simply be included in plaintext form in an electronic document or video, included in audio format in an audio or video file, or printed in a physical document. It should also be appreciated that more than one set of key data, in other words, more than one private key or derivation thereof, may be embedded in a single service or item. Furthermore, the same set of key data may be embedded in multiple service or items.
An example of such a case is a scenario wherein the authorized entity has an account at an online media library, such as iTunes. In cases where more than one different private key is embedded in the service or item, each private key corresponds to a separate blockchain address having a balance of blockchain. Alternatively, a single private key embedded in the service or item may be associated with a plurality of blockchain addresses in the database, the authorized entity typically being held liable for funds held in one or more of the plurality of addresses.
It is foreseen that the service or item provider may have management software used for any one or more of the following functions: to receive the service or item using the service or item receiving module, to generate the necessary cryptographic key pairs, to store keys in association with entity credentials, to embed private keys in service or items using the embedding module, to distribute or otherwise allow entities to obtain requested items, to monitor the shared transaction ledger using the monitoring module, and to use the designation module to designate a service or item as accessed by a third party in the event that a transaction against a particular blockchain address becomes visible in the shared transaction ledger.
Designating a service or item as accessed by a third party may refer to any action taken an entity to confirm or establish that the key data embedded in the service or item was compromised and used to transact against the relevant blockchain address. The party may typically be an individual having ownership or control of the service or item, a group having ownership or control of the service or item, the authorized entity itself, the service or item provider as described above, or a third party associated with the service or item provider.
In such cases, one or more of the service or item receiving module, the embedding module, the monitoring module, the designation module and the database may be associated with the embedding service provider such that the embedding service provider is capable of embedding the key data in the service or item on behalf of the service or item provider and performing one or more of the further functions associated with the modules mentioned and the database.
The service or item may be embedded with the key data by the embedding service provider on behalf of the authorized entity. It should be appreciated that the service or item may have various formats and is not limited to the transfer of a file or document. In one example, the authorized entity may select media content to stream or video content to download to a personal device. In addition to the use of a blockchain system, any suitable conventional payment systems and channels may be employed to purchase, rent or otherwise transact to obtain the service or item.
Alternatively, no conventional payment may be required. The service or item provider then generates the key pair and transfers funds to the blockchain address. Alternatively, the blockchain address may be associated with a key pair of the authorized entity, the authorized entity providing the service or item provider with the private key to enable the service or item provider to uniquely identify transactions conducted against the blockchain address.
The authorized entity may have generated the key pair, provides the private key to the service or item provider, and the service or item provider transfers funds to the blockchain address. In a further embodiment, the authorized entity, after generating the blockchain address and transferring funds to the blockchain address, provides the private key to the service or item provider.
In at least one known blockchain system, the blockchain address is therefore algorithmically converted from a public key. However, it should be appreciated that the blockchain address may be the public key itself, or any other identifier derived at least partially from the public key. The blockchain address and public key may thus comprise different values or strings of characters that are uniquely associated with each other such that the private key remains unambiguously linked to the blockchain address.
The system is not limited to one or more particular blockchain systems, as will be apparent to those skilled in the art. In embodiments of the system, the balance associated with the blockchain address may be less than an inherent value of the service or item. The service or item may be made available to the authorized entity permanently. This may typically be the case for physical or biological items or media items such as, among others, music files, software and electronic books.
If the service or item is made available to the authorized entity permanently, the authorized entity may be held liable for unauthorized distribution of the service or item at any time after the service or item is made available to the authorized entity. Alternatively, the service or item may be made available for a predefined period of time or until a predefined condition is met.
For example, the service or item may be streaming media, in which case the authorized entity is only held liable for compromising the private key embedded in the media during a specific timeframe, for example, until streaming has ended. Alternatively, the service or item provider may monitor the shared transaction ledger for a period of time to determine whether the blockchain address is transacted against before liability is lifted.
Alternatively, the authorized entity may be held liable. In one embodiment for corporate management, the blockchain comprises code for storing a stock identifier ID , a stock certificate number with stock quantity. Other embodiments may include:. Rather that representing a single transferable, object an Blockchain token wallet holds multiple stock items such as shares in companies.
A stock ID, in some embodiments, is determined and invalidated by an issuer. An issuer e. In some embodiments, stock shares are issued and destroyed by highly authoritative entities. For example, dollars available on the Blockchain token network represented by, e. A Blockchain token wallet or transaction can house a single security, as described above, or multiple denominations of the same security. Blockchain tokens are exchangeable for, e. The wallet stores Blockchain tokens regardless of their stock ID, position, or quantity.
In some embodiments, the wallet can substitute fungible currencies. For example, individual Blockchain tokens of pennies can be internally exchanged by the described technology for a single dollar Blockchain token. As described above, in various embodiments, the system generates Blockchain token transactions based on the wallet's content. Trader A enters his order into his wallet, and Trader B enters her order into her wallet. Based on the orders, the described technology generates the appropriate transaction messages, which are broadcast to the network for authentication and verification.
Once each transaction is sent to the network, in one or more embodiments, settlement is immediate; therefore, each trader must be prepared to make the trade and have the assurance that the other trader is prepared to do the same. Various techniques are used by the described technology to coordinate the processes of trading Blockchain tokens for cryptographic currency e.
The described technology, in various embodiments, implements an atomic commitment protocol, such as a two-phase commitment protocol, to ensure that both traders are ready to send their respective transaction messages. A coordinator of the two-phase commitment is, in some embodiments, a trusted node, for example a node that both traders mutually agree to have act as coordinator including each other. For example, a node can be elected as coordinator based on random or pseudo-random token exchange, uptime, number of validated transactions sent, or other qualifier.
Regardless of the coordinator, after each node is committed, appropriate transaction messages are broadcast to transfer Blockchain token ownership. In some embodiments, the described technology can modify trading protocols such that two traders share an open transaction and close it to settle. For example, a trader with a wallet which can give USD can share an open transaction to exchange, e. The coordinator can close the transaction as part of a two-phase commit. Blockchain stock ownership is transferred via one or more transaction messages.
A transaction message includes a transaction and a digital signature. The transaction includes, for example, the Blockchain token, the receiver's i. Addresses are based, in various embodiments, on one or more cryptographic protocols e. Public-key cryptography requires two separate keys, one of which is secret i. Although different, the two keys are mathematically linked. The public key is used to encrypt plaintext e. The private key is used to decrypt cipher text, to create a digital signature, and to secure Blockchain tokens.
Public keys are freely shared among nodes in the peer-to-peer network, for example by broadcasting one or more key-exchange messages. The transaction message, in various embodiments, is digitally signed by the sender's private key to authenticate the sender's identity to the network nodes, e. When an Blockchain token is first created i. In one or more embodiments, the issuer can maintain the same private key for digitally signing each Blockchain token as it is issued and entered into in the ledgers.
That private key, in turn, can be validated by mutual agreement between the nodes, by a trusted third party e. After a Blockchain stock transaction i. This flexibility allows for cost optimisation for and by national administrations. At the level of operators, costs and burdens are not evenly spread across the stakeholders. Access regulation is considered burdensome by incumbent operators, yet nothing more than what is necessary to reach the competition objective by alternative operators.
Most operators refer to consumer protection rules as being over burdensome especially in view of the differing implementation across Member States and of the overlapping horizontal legislation. While this suggest a need for simplification and reduction of burden in specific areas, consumer organisations recall the value of certain sector-specific rules and of the discretion left to Member States to complement minimum harmonisation in a fast moving sector.
Several areas were identified for reducing administrative burden while preserving the effectiveness of the provisions. The level of complexity of access regulation is considered in most cases necessary to ensure that regulation affecting operators directly is fit for purpose and not unnecessarily burdensome on operators. This is in particular the case of "stable" markets, where simplified procedures can be envisaged without affecting the quality of the regulation e. In a similar vein, it can be questioned, based on the actual implementation experience, whether the very short cycles of market reviews are truly necessary.
Achieving more regulatory consistency in areas such as spectrum or authorisation requirements might in addition reduce the administrative burden of businesses operating across several Member States. EU added value: the framework has played a role in the broader development of national regulatory regimes and market developments that favour a pro-competitive offer of electronic communications services across Europe.
It has contributed to major positive outcomes for consumers and businesses, across and within Member States. Moreover, it has levelled up national regulation in the area of electronic communications, including in areas which were previously not even tackled by some Member States, such as consumer protection, where there are, however, too many overlapping or varying provisions and simplification can be achieved.
Coherence: not many coherence issues were identified during the evaluation work. Generally speaking, the various instruments making up the regulatory framework for electronic communications have reinforced each other in the pursuit of its objectives. As an illustration, provisions on authorisation enable pro-competitive market entry. Access regulation and spectrum management contribute to positive outcomes for consumers, to the point where commercial offers render regulated universal services redundant or obsolete in certain instances.
Some issues of internal inconsistencies have been identified. Two external consistency issues require however attention in the review process namely the coherence between regulations aimed at incentivising competitive network rollout and the EU financing and state aid rules in the field, as well as the potential overlaps between sector specific and horizontal consumer interest legislation.
Provided that detailed analysis of the exact scope of the provision in place concludes that sector specific rules have become redundant, those particular provisions can be withdrawn, leaving sector specific rules only to address those areas where such rules are still warranted, in line with the REFIT principles. The evaluation has identified several areas where simplification is possible and the administrative burden could be reduced without compromising — in some cases even improving - the effectiveness of the provisions: e.
This aspects is more widely analysed in Section 1. As anticipated by the DSM strategy, the traditional telecom sector is under increasing pressure to i serve increasing user demand for data connectivity, ii anticipate future demand and socio-economic needs and iii react to new internet-based competitors. These aspects are important since investments in networks are becoming instrumental for productivity gains not only in the telecom sector, but especially in several downstream sectors transport, health etc.
In this regard, the Commission has identified three interrelated problems that need to be addressed:. Figure 1 illustrates the problems underpinning the review of the electronic communications framework and describes the problem drivers, with market and regulatory failures further elaborated in section 1. As shown by the colours in the picture, problems are interrelated and tend to have similar drivers or consequences.
This section analyses the obstacles to unconstrained connectivity in the EU. These factors prevent the achievement of ubiquitous and performing fixed and mobile broadband infrastructure that is a necessary component for global competitiveness and lies at the heart of the DSM strategy. When considering the problems of suboptimal investment and the need for connectivity it is important to take into account that albeit networks are often national or local in nature and will in some cases get even more local in the future with the proliferation of small fibre operators as it has already happened in Sweden the problem of suboptimal investment is a European problem, as even local networks are financed from international and cross-border capital markets; furthermore, the deployment throughout Europe of networks with similar high connectivity characteristics is vital for the development and widespread take-up at European scale of the sorts of consumer and industrial applications and services on which the DSM will thrive.
So despite the often local nature of the networks, connectivity and investment have a clear internal market dimension and the review should strive to induce policies which are more favourable to investment without jeopardising the existing objectives.
The causes of suboptimal investment are explored in more detail in section 1. The same annex also includes international comparisons on connectivity and the EU dimension of the connectivity problem. As recognised in the evaluation report in section 7. Figure 13 shows how demand for Mbps turns into take-up in countries where networks are widely available. The main findings are reported in annex 14 and in figure 87 included therein.
The same study shows that basic NGA at 30 Mbps is not enough to meet the near future connectivity needs see also annex 9. There are a number of causes for investment in connectivity being suboptimal. These causes can be regrouped in two main sets: i causes that are of a macroeconomic or socio-economic nature and therefore exogenous to the regulatory framework that is the object of this review e.
The corollary of the previous statement is that the proposals that will be presented in the forthcoming sections can only affect to a given extent the level of investment , although they will be significantly beneficial to investment and will make an important contribution by reducing risk the operators face and increasing their expected return on investment.
Investment is not suboptimal everywhere, as clearly evidenced by the different degrees of coverage in Europe see figure 42 below. The evaluation identified in section 6. In a context of declining revenues in the sector, there has been an increase in this ratio, from In other words, telecom operators increased the proportion of their investment through the period.
In terms of endogenous factors , investment may have been restrained by the fact that average revenue per users went down in Europe for a number of years. According to a study quoted in the evaluation Section 6. This does not mean that investment and competition are at odds with each other. Under the current regulatory framework, as shown in the evaluation report see in particular section 7.
Some of the countries in Eastern Europe which had relatively lower standard broadband coverage have relatively high coverage of FTTH, as do countries that have pushed for infrastructure competition such as Spain, Portugal and Sweden, while certain countries with high NGA coverage overall including Belgium, the UK and Germany, have very limited deployment of FTTH. Of course, infrastructure competition will not be possible everywhere, but regulation should promote it when possible. The problem in dense urban areas is to encourage feasible infrastructure investment and foster competition;.
The problem in less dense but economically viable, i. Different requirements are likely to be needed for business access, as the market can involve different scale economies and customer distribution as well as different operators than the residential mass-market. In terms of exogenous factors , beyond the macroeconomic GDP, country risk etc. Demand and low take-up can also certainly condition investment.
Indeed, low take-up even in the presence of fast infrastructures is cited by several stakeholders NB mostly incumbents as a key problem in the market today ". However, the forecast run by IDATE in the same study have shown the insufficiency of networks to meet future demand, so in the medium run this may be a problem, as demand keeps booming and infrastructure cannot be upgraded in the short term. This is also part of the reason why a European Gigabit Society strategy is needed, since a policy and non-binding strategy can be better suited than regulation at taking into account demand-side aspects e.
The importance of demand is another reason to maintain the important role of competition in the regulatory mix, as competition on very high capacity networks should not only ensure that prices are attractive to end users, and not too distant from those for traditional copper networks, but also that there is more commercial innovation in building demand. The level of e-skills is certainly affecting demand for NGA services as illustrated by Figure 2 below.
The public consultation showed that in relation to different treatment of legacy copper networks whether pure copper access networks or upgraded FttC networks with copper sub-loops to incentivise upgrades, operators invoked the principle of technological neutrality and leaving the market to decide how to best meet demand. However, a number of contributors consider that copper-based solutions will not represent a credible alternative in the long term.
Investors in FTTH solutions and some access seekers call for a recognition that the risk involved in rolling out fibre to the premises is higher than upgrading copper, so that regulatory incentives, if any, should not include FttC solutions. Regulators also argue that any risks specific to a particular new investment network project should be considered if wholesale tariffs are subject to regulation, in order to allow the operator a reasonable rate of return on adequate capital employed ROCE and return on investment ROI.
On a more critical note, there was some discussion in the Expert Group 16 on 30 May over what the review of the framework should aim towards as regards objectives for connectivity overall and whether or not there should be an emphasis on very high speeds potentially delivered via fibre connections See Annex 13 for more details. It follows that, from a short term perspective, the added value of VHC may not currently be so high in the eyes of consumers, with consequential effects on their willingness to pay for it at least in the short term.
While these causes can and will be partially addressed in the review, it is also important to acknowledge that a certain amount of public funding will remain necessary to improve the business case for operators and promoters in the most difficult areas. Public funding dedicated to high speed broadband networks is available, including EU funding in amounts which have been increasing throughout the multi-annual financial frameworks The current levels of public funding remain however largely insufficient to meet the challenge presented above.
The technical availability of mobile signals i. Truly ubiquitous coverage i. These vertical industries will require sufficient capacity and reliability and other application-related parameters e. Although 5G will coexist with other legacy infrastructures 2G and 3G as well as with upgraded 4G networks, capital-intensive 5G networks architectures will require high capacity connection to base stations and, thus, involve a greater number of base stations as well as denser networks that will increase the backhaul 19 traffic.
These will pose challenges for backhaul links 21 due to the fact that, on the one hand, network architectures become much denser by means of, e. On the other, since the capacity of individual cells increases thanks to advances in technology, the corresponding backhaul links also require more capacity to manage data coming from technologically advanced cells. Indeed, with regard to facilitating deployment of denser networks, many respondents in the public consultation pointed to obstacles to the roll-out of small area access points needed for mobile services A development that is critical to estimating the costs of future connectivity of 5G is the increased prevalence of small cells.
Although these are already being deployed for 4G services to increase capacity of networks, the very high data and bandwidth requirements of 5G will require a much larger number of small cells. The 5G Manifesto for a timely deployment of 5G in Europe 23 , endorsed by key industry and telecom players, underlines the need for improved regulatory conditions of spectrum in terms of local installation of cells to facilitate the construction of denser networks Along these lines, many market actors and public authorities consider that a general authorisation regime for small cells would foster innovation and competition both for services and end-devices.
In order to provide full coverage of transport links, their model predicts an additional billion EUR, the wireless infrastructure accounting for 64 billion EUR without any further synergies possible for fibre rollout in the corresponding scenario. The lack of sufficient connectivity to meet future demand and to allow development of services, is especially notable in wireless connectivity networks that rely on access to spectrum Demand for spectrum is growing significantly driven by both existing and new services and applications.
It is estimated that up to 56 GHz 27 will be needed to meet the demand of 5G users and applications e. Mobile data traffic in Western Europe and the US is expected to grow 6-fold from until , which represents a higher growth compared to South-Korea x5 and Japan x4. Indeed, mobile data traffic will grow twice faster than fixed IP traffic from to In terms of traffic, the average smartphone user in Western Europe will generate 4.
In terms of devices, laptop users will generate 4. IoT devices 28 are expected to surpass mobile phones as the largest category of connected devices in 2 years Source: Ericsson Mobility Report, June Timely award of sufficient spectrum i. Forecasted data for mobile broadband traffic confirm this trend of potential increase of wireless traffic, the growing need of wireless connectivity is due not only to wireless broadband but also M2M communications enabled by 5G networks.
The US and Japan will show similar figures, while in South Korea both traffic and number of M2M devices will be significantly higher proportionally In order to meet these connectivity requirements timely access to spectrum needs to be assured. In some Member States, there have been significant delays in making necessary spectrum resources i. Taking 4G licences in the MHz band as an example, the figure below depicts the difference in timing of spectrum availability across the EU countries which stretched over 5 years with some countries still in the process of awarding MHz licenses, despite the envisaged deadline in the Radio Spectrum Policy Program already having expired in January Source: Commission Services.
The result of the slow coming into service of spectrum resources is that it affects possibilities and incentives for operators to invest in the development of their networks see Annex 2 on Public Consultation. The results of the Public Consultation showed that although the current technical harmonisation is seen to be working relatively well, there is criticism on the current institutional system's capability to bring spectrum resources to the market in a coordinated and timely manner.
Similarly, the differences in fees and auction prices paid across MS that, in addition, create discrepancies between markets and operators and contribute to the fragmentation of the European mobile market. In some cases, the auction processes especially those with high reserve prices appear to be driven by fiscal considerations rather than the objective of optimal use of the spectrum resource for connectivity.
Thus, short term considerations i. The more capital is required to acquire a licence the less capital is available for investment in the network, and the lower the coverage. Consequently, the coverage of 4G services in the EU has been slow; it started to develop late and with great differences across national markets.
Compared with other regions of the word, Europe lags behind in the roll-out Australia is the 6th best performer, followed by Korea and the United States Operators' incentives to invest in network deployment especially in the more capital-intensive future 5G networks are influenced by factors such as the lack of predictability of spectrum availability or broad synchronisation of spectrum release and licence durations relative to the required investments cycles.
Consistently with the above analysis, t he 5G Manifesto with European industry endorsement seeks sufficient spectrum bands to be licensed on time if target launch date for 5G is to be met It also emphasises that the spectrum aspects of the DSM - namely, harmonisation and predictability of spectrum policy across Member States including spectrum availability, licensing procedures and costs, licence terms, and liberalisation and renewal of existing spectrum — are essential to encourage more investment into the mobile sector, particularly in 5G networks.
As indicated in the evaluation section 7. B usiness customers typically require higher quality of service levels than residential customers, and may also require higher performance levels as regards certain technical characteristics. They also require short provisioning and fault repair times, and service level guarantees. Mobile broadband is not considered a substitute as it does not sufficiently meet the higher expectations of business customers with regard to these aspects.
However it has also to be said that interviews conducted for the support study suggest that the technical requirements of business customers may over time converge with the growing ones of residential customers. The widening use of telework practices could boost the need for symmetric gigabit connectivity and therefore the need for VHC networks to be made available to ever more end users. This could in theory also enable business users to benefit from any infrastructure-based competition or co-investment in mass-market FTTH networks.
Whereas large companies tend to solve the connectivity problem through ad-hoc leased lines, SMEs are often struggling to meet their connectivity requirements. Moreover, the wider diffusion of the collaborative economy and the increasing number of micro enterprises that operate in it also fosters higher connectivity requirements. Multi-national businesses require not only the availability of connections in dispersed locations, but also uniform conditions for provisioning, repair and quality guarantees.
The lack of availability of harmonised conditions for business accessing connectivity across borders has its roots in the national focus of the institutional regulatory set up and of the rules intended to address cross-border market failures, such as the lack of availability of a business grade product for which demand exists. Although rules for cross-border harmonisation exist, they require relatively complex and often non-binding procedures to deliver consistent outcomes.
This has failed to provide the consistency demanded by multi-national business users operating across the single market. The evaluation section 7. The lack of available business connectivity products on a cross-border basis is one of the reason why the framework contribution to the Single Market objective , was rated more critically than the other objectives with most stakeholders 41 considering that this is the least accomplished objective of the framework, referring to the lack of regulatory consistency and to the persisting barrier s to operating across borders.
This section deals with the problems brought about by the significant market and technological developments that have taken place since the last review, changing the way citizens and businesses communicate, and bringing the need to adapt current rules to these changes. The evaluation report noted that Over-the-Top players OTTs are not subject to sector-specific rights and obligations, even when their services are used by the end-users to cover the same or similar communications needs as the traditional electronic communications services.
Many stakeholders BEREC, several Member States, most operator associations, most incumbents, some cable players, all user associations and some broadcasters referred in the public consultation to the need to review the current definition of ECS, owing to the increasing uncertainty on the scope of the definition of ECS related to "conveyance of signals", the inconsistent regulatory obligations for similar services and the convergence of communications services.
New online players -often global- have emerged offering communication services which many users perceive as comparable to traditional electronic communications services such as voice telephony and SMS. These so called Over-The-Top-players OTTs provide their services in the form of applications running over the internet access service and are in general not subject to the current EU telecom rules.
Some of such OTT communications services make use of telephone numbers and can for this reason be considered to fall under the framework 42 , but the point is contested and de facto the rules of the framework have not been applied to them. Traditional electronic communications services, however, clearly fall under the scope of the EU Regulatory Framework, since they incontestably fulfil the definition of "Electronic Communication s Services" ECS , a legal term contained in the Framework Directive Art.
Operators of traditional electronic communications services usually also own and run parts of the underlying network, which consequently puts them into a "controlling" position. These differences have led national regulatory authorities to adopt diverging interpretations on the consideration of OTT communications services as "Electronic Communication s Services" ECS The generic OTT label hides different types of communications services which may e.
Skype out in order to interconnect with traditional telecom service providers. In order to be able to technically make use of numbers, such OTT operators need to e. So by being able to offer OTT communications services which - from a user perspective - can "interact" with phone numbers, such OTT operators factually market their services as being equivalent to and cheaper than traditional telecommunication services and end users can come to rely upon them having equivalent functionalities. Other OTT communications services may not give the possibility to use numbers, yet they nevertheless provide communications services that consumers may in certain situations also see as functionally substitutable to traditional services.
Such disruptive innovations, while very convenient and financially beneficial to end users, bring the need to analyse their impact on existing competition conditions and possible distortive effects stemming from differentiated regulatory treatment, as well as the adequacy of existing regulation in a changed environment. Providers of traditional communication services, which mainly provide both networks and services, including internet access services and some specific services, have to comply with sector-specific obligations related to e.
Pure OTTs, on their side, are subject to horizontal legislation only and not to these sector-specific obligations, even when their services are used by the end-users to cover the same or similar communications needs. Moreover, traditional providers are often subject to sector-specific administrative charges and taxes. Finally, they have to comply with specific data protection obligations under the ePrivacy Directive, beyond the Data Protection Regulation 45 , which applies also to OTTs.
At the same time, the EU regulatory framework offers providers of traditional communication services certain rights which could be considered as an advantage in comparison to OTTs, such as e. Such access to the numbering regime provides a global reach through phone numbers and the interconnection agreements between traditional telecom providers ensure a global network effect for telephony and SMS. The differentiated regulatory treatment outlined above creates uncertainty about rights and obligations for provision of equivalent services that needs to be addressed by the review.
Firstly, the question arises to what type of communications services the framework should extend. Secondly, what sector-specific end-user protection rules are still warranted or have become obsolete. Thirdly, whether underlying public interest such as e. Sector-specific end user protection rules complement general consumer protection and aim at a high level of consumer protection in the electronic communications sector. These sector-specific rules cover in particular areas such as contractual information, transparency, quality of service, contract duration, switching, privacy and security, and access to emergency numbers.
European and national consumer associations, on their side, have not identified any provision to be repealed, and would prefer to keep current sector-specific end-user in order to supplement the framework and general consumer protection rules which do not address sector-specific issues.
Although the rapid adoption of alternative OTTs communications services that are not subject to these sector specific rules suggests that end-users generally feel confident in using these services without sector-specific protection, there may be areas where the users of these new services are exposed to the same risks that sectorial rules were designed to address, for instance regarding security and confidentiality of communications or transparency and contractual information.
This brings the need to assess to what extent the rules on consumer protection which would still seem to be necessary should be extended to all or some new market players. This was confirmed in the public consultation where, despite the fact that most stakeholders Member States, telecom operators and their associations, broadcasters, vendors and OTT providers argued that the current framework has contributed to effectively achieving the goal of ensuring a high level of consumer protection across the EU, many of them also considered that the current regulatory framework has failed to deliver consumer protection with respect to emerging services based on new technological developments and outside or not clearly within the remit of the sector-specific rules.
In particular, most responding Member States support specific requirements to be applied to all communications services irrespective of the provider "traditional" telecom operators or "new" OTTs in order to avoid risks of a insufficient customer protection, b a lack of clarity, and c confusion among consumers who might mistakenly believe that their communication is protected by sector-specific rules. Consumer representatives supported this view, calling for an extension of existing rights for communications services.
The majority of communications service providers, including OTTs, would prefer that end-user rights rely on horizontal regulation consumer and data protection , together with competition law tools, with a minimum set of rules applying to all players. Concerns about security of communications have risen in parallel with the adoption of new services in the economy and society as a whole.
In a total of "major incidents" in terms of either duration or percentage of users affected were reported, affecting in comparable percentages fixed telephony, mobile telephony, fixed Internet and mobile Internet. Although there are no comparable figures, security incidents have also been reported for alternative OTTs communications services.
Over half of respondents to the public consultation considered that current rules have been effective in achieving their objectives and more than a third considered it important to involve the complete Internet value chain under the security rules. This would help to increase consumers' trust in the use of communications services regardless of the underlying technology. End-users of OTT messaging services are currently less protected because there are no security duties applicable to OTT communications that are comparable to those applying to telecoms services.
If security is considered as an important value, it is reasonable to consider whether it should apply in a similar way to all comparable communications services. Another important requirement is confidentiality of communications which currently applies to electronic communications services only. The exact delineation of the services subject to any confidentiality obligations, and the scope of such obligations, is a matter for the review of the e-privacy Directive which may build on the definitions developed in this review.
Current adoption of new communications services has not led to any particular needs thus far in the area of interconnection and interoperability. The variety of available means of communications, ease in switching between various OTT communications services because of multi homing, for instance have ensured de facto end-to-end connectivity for end users via various communications services in addition to traditional numbers-based telephony and messaging and consumer choice.
However, in view of the increasing importance of communications platforms which benefit from network effects, it appears opportune to have tools available in case healthy functioning of markets or innovation is threatened, in particular if network effects would impede entry and innovation in the market and limit consumer choice in the use of different services. Either such scenario would in turn hamper the creation of a fully functioning single market for communications services.
The public consultation showed divergent views on this issue, with mobile operators and certain incumbents calling for a phasing out of the ex-ante regime in place, arguing that the IP-based delivery of voice services is modifying market circumstances. MVNOs have an opposing view on the matter, on the ground that terminating networks will always remain a bottleneck.
OTTs consider that interconnection rules are needed to avoid discrimination. Rules regarding contracts and switching are complementary to competition: they ensure that consumers derive maximum benefits from a competitive market: from making the right purchase, to ease of switching to other providers when desired.
These rules have thus enhanced competition on prices, quality and service innovation and have fostered innovative commercial offers. Good and reliable quality of service is of particular importance for the internet access service, through which many communications services are made available to consumers.
This is reflected in the increasing attention that consumers pay to factors other than price when subscribing to an internet access service. In particular, data show that after price, the two factors that consumers consider for their purchase decision are the maximum download and upload speed of the service and the maximum amount of data that can be used.
Similarly, an increasing number of consumers perceive that the possibility to keep their phone number when switching provider is an important facility that they would like to use for other components of the communication services, such as e-mails, contents, photos and content stored online by the communication service provider.
The public consultation indeed supported these findings, with consumer protection bodies and Member States in favour of keeping sector-specific end-user rights applicable to communication services, while alternative telecom operators suggested that full harmonisation is needed for contractual information, transparency measures, contract duration, switching, and bundles.
Telecom operators associations, most incumbents, several alternative players and most cable operators think there is no need for additional sector specific consumer protection rules and that any potential issues should be dealt with horizontally.
However, these stakeholders acknowledge that there may be several issues that need attention. Some of these would include bundling of contracts and their impact on switching see section 1. All these changes to the market place raise questions about notably the scope of application of the regulatory framework as well as the type of regulatory intervention prescribed by the latter to ensure consumer protection in some areas.
Technology developments have fostered the convergence of different technologies and services enabling the delivery of seamless services to end-users in the form of bundles. The rapid adoption of bundles in the EU 47 has brought significant benefits to users in terms of convenience and price; however, it has also affected market structure and market conduct and created new transparency, comparability and switching problems for consumers, which poses longer term risks for competition on prices and quality of service.
A bundle refers to a package of several different services sold together as a single plan: landline calling, Internet access, mobile services, pay-tv. A bundle can also include products, most frequently a terminal device The aim for vendors is to increase average revenue per user ARPU by increasing the number of subscriptions sold to customers, and to secure customer loyalty. Mobile customer churn rates decrease when their mobile plan is bundled with a fixed Internet access and pay-tv plan.
Bundles have both benefits and disadvantages for consumers. By integrating several services in a single offer, with unified billing and customer care service, they can be more convenient and less expensive for consumers.
Yet bundles can also make transparency and price comparison more difficult and potentially lead to lock-in effects, since bundles make it more difficult for consumers to switch providers of certain services within the bundle. Regarding transparency and price comparison, as shown in the evaluation report see section 7.
A majority of respondents to the public consultation, including several Member States, almost half of the NRAs, mobile and certain fixed operators and the European consumer association advocate that the scope of current rules on switching needs to be adjusted due to bundles.
Bundles are a cause of concern and the TV service should not hinder switching of broadband services. Consumers' view, shared by many others, is that consumers should be able to terminate any individual service within a bundle equipment linked to one service should not lock-in consumers to other services , and renewal of one service should not be used to renew the entire bundle.
On the opposite side to this view are a few Member States, operators' associations and a large number of fixed operators, which think that additional rules would represent a disproportionate burden on telecom operators, as OTTs are currently not obliged to offer unbundled services.
Moreover, they argue that the market is competitive, there is no evidence of harm on the contrary, consumers value bundles , and competition rules together with horizontal consumer protection should suffice. Besides the three major problems described above different rules for equivalent services, gaps in consumer protection and rules unfitted to bundles for switching purposes , technology and market changes have also prompted the need to consider the advisability of adapting other sets of rules.
For instance, must-carry obligations on providers of electronic communications networks for the transmission of specified radio and television broadcast channels could be examined in view of the increasing use of OTT services for accessing audio-visual content, as well as the prevalence of catch-up or other video-on-demand services accompanying traditional broadcast channels and broadcast distribution platforms.
OTT services are not covered by 'must-carry' obligations. While there is a majority view in the public consultation that transmission obligations imposed on electronic network operators 'must-carry' rules and rules related to electronic programme guides should be adapted to new market and technological realities, there is sharp disagreement how such adaptation should be conceived.
Extension of current rules is supported by most broadcasters whereas most telecom operators are in favour of reducing the scope of the rules. Another area where adjustments may be necessary is numbering. While the evaluation showed no significant problems with the implementation at national level, it made it clear that changes may be needed to cope with future competition issues in the machine-to-machine market, e.
M2M growth rates are expected to be many times higher than those of the pure voice communications, changing the pattern and intensity of demand for numbering resources. The public consultation showed consensus that to cope with the numbering needs of M2M in the future, a clear framework for extra-territorial use of numbers is necessary to ensure sufficient numbering resources. As rules regarding extraterritorial usage are not governed by the regulatory framework, they may differ per Member State, entailing a risk of regulatory fragmentation.
In this respect, existing coordination efforts in CEPT to prevent regulatory fragmentation may not prove sufficient to comply with the requirements of the Single Market. More specifically, administrative limitations of extraterritorial use may raise concerns with regard to compliance with EU Law notably with the requirements of Article 56 TFEU concerning the freedom to provide services. At present, the scope of entities that can be beneficiaries of assignment of numbers vary per Member State and is often limited to specific categories of electronic communications service providers, In this respect, the current beneficiaries, e.
Mainly respondents beyond the telecom sector noted the increasing cross border aspects and the need to adapt to market changes. Rules on access to emergency services are a very important issue too, as indicated in the evaluation report. In the public consultation, the telecom industry highlighted the importance of reliable access to emergency services that, in view of the technical standards and legal arrangements in place, can be provided only through ECS today. However, they argue that access to obligations should be imposed on OTTs as well, if technically feasible.
A large number of stakeholders consider that, although it would not be technically feasible to subject all OTT services to the obligation of providing access to emergency services, all the voice services perceived by the users as substitutive to the current PSTN voice service and which also give access to E. Finally, obligations related to Universal Service may no longer be in line with current levels of availability and use of communications networks and services, as evidenced by the evaluation of the regulatory framework.
This section analyses the regulatory set up and regulation areas where objectives can be achieved in more efficient ways. This problem is clearly identified in the evaluation report The better regulation principle is about regulating only when necessary and in a proportionate manner. The evaluation has identified several areas where the administrative burden could be reduced without compromising — in some cases even improving - the effectiveness of the provisions.
Access regulation is an area where a certain level of simplification could take place in terms of process, intervention triggers or the relevance of access products for safeguarding competition, without compromising however the results achieved. The current regulatory framework implies a considerable amount of intervention intensity at both Member States and EU level, given, for example, the need to carry out and consult on market analyses every 3 years as well as the complexity of regulating ex ante the terms of provision of a significant number of different access products based on such analyses, in particular as several access products may be required for each regulated market.
Moreover, the procedures as such could be simplified for certain very stable markets such as the markets for call termination, without compromising the outcomes. Based on the actual implementation experience, it appears that the current cycles of market reviews are unnecessarily short and that lengthening them would increase the regulatory certainty and reduce the administrative burden for NRAs, the Commission, as well as for market participants.
There are is also a potential to avoid duplication of processes for the specification of new wholesale remedies, and simplify the imposition of remedies in the medium term through the introduction of standardised wholesale remedies in cases where such remedies would be appropriate, for example in relation to business access for which there is significant trans-national demand. Compliance burden could be reduced with limiting the interventions only when it is needed to address retail market failures.
Areas where much is to be gained from streamlining include the universal service rules that can be revised in view of their effectiveness and of the decreasing relevance of some of the elements. There is a clear simplification and reduction of administrative burden potential highlighted by the evaluation, indicating the possible removal of some redundant universal service obligation components as public payphones, comprehensive directories and directory enquiry services.
Those are causing costs on top of the administrative burden for the NRAs from the process leading to the imposition of obligations. For example, as indicated in the evaluation report, the estimated maintenance of payphones in the EU costs annually over 1 bn euro — a large amount that needs to be critically considered in the light of rather infrequent use of the facility.
However, the available data suggest that the relation between the cost and demand is such that commercial provision by the market would suffice, in particular for online directories and enquiry services. The table below summarises the current state of play of universal service obligations in the Member States. Orange indicates that a universal service provider USP was designated in the past, but that the USO has been withdrawn in the year indicated in the applicable field.
Another target area will be the removal of certain consumer protection measures which are adequately addressed through horizontal legislation. The evaluation report indicates that simplification may be achieved among others by analysing the necessity of overlapping provisions, which may lead to reducing the sector specific rules to those areas where they are still warranted, or of provisions which developments may have made redundant or irrelevant, such as for instance certain sector-specific consumer protection rules or some universal service components.
In the public consultation providers argued that at present there is a problem of regulatory redundancy in certain areas because of overlapping general consumer protection rules and telecom sector specific rules for consumer protection, as well as duplication of authorities dealing with consumer dispute settlement and sanctions and that this overlap leads to over-regulation, too detailed provisions, and inconsistency of rules.
The latest development of general consumer protection rules such as the Consumer Rights Directive, the Regulation on online dispute resolution or the Directive for alternative dispute resolution has resulted in partly overlapping legal frameworks, which could in some cases lead to duplication of procedures, over-regulation, too detailed provisions or inconsistency of rules.
For example some contract provisions in Article 20 Universal Service Directive are overlapping with information requirements in contracts in the Consumer Rights Directive covering aspects such as characteristics of services, identity of trader, tariffs or contract duration; additionally general contract rules are also set out in the Services Directive. The ADR Directive enables EU consumers to resolve their disputes concerning contractual obligations stemming from sales contracts or service contracts with EU traders, including electronic communications service providers, through the intervention of ADR entities respecting binding quality requirements.
Online traders and online marketplaces are required to provide a link to the EU ODR platform on their website. The evaluation report noted however that the exact scope and protection level of each set of rules must be analysed in detail before any conclusions are drawn — in particular in view of making sure that the level of protection offered to consumers remains adequate and whether sector-specific rules are still warranted.
In particular, even in the case of protection rules with similar purposes and similar measures e. In any case, a clear need appears to address the small inconsistencies identified e. In the public consultation, market actors and public authorities share the view that a general authorisation regime would foster innovation and competition both for services and end-devices.
Shared access to spectrum is likely to play an increasingly important role in meeting this growing demand see section 1. Indeed, most public and commercial respondents are calling for flexible or shared access to spectrum to meet future demand, in particular for 5G, preferably on a voluntary basis. Vendors and operators insist on the contrary on exclusive or licensed shared access for quality purposes.
Broadcasters raise interference issues and thus urge for careful selection of compatible sharing usages. Greater and more intense spectrum sharing is becoming possible because of more sophisticated technologies and new authorization approaches.
Successful deployment of 5G requires a consistent spectrum sharing model across the EU. The figure below shows the impact that spectrum sharing has on the need for additional spectrum in three 5G use cases, i. The deployment of 5G networks may raise the need for fewer and simpler rules to create the right conditions for necessary investment in fixed and wireless infrastructure backhauls to be '5G ready' to enable cross-border services.
The increased reliance of mobile technologies on fixed fibre backhaul see annex 14 to achieve greater speeds and reliability also underlines the importance of strategies which address fibre deployment and spectrum availability in tandem. Along this line, most of public and commercial respondents to the Public Consultation called for a flexible and shared access to spectrum, preferably on a voluntary basis, in order to meet the future demand.
In terms of coherence and lack of effective coordination, the current governance structure of access regulation is based on a relatively complex system of Recommendations, ex ante checks and balances. Even in cases where common approaches are agreed between the Commission and BEREC, the system does not achieve full consistency, because of the lack of effective co-ordination mechanisms for regulatory remedies and lack of binding powers For instance regarding Mobile termination rates, despite a Commission recommendation, backed by BEREC, certain NRAs still do not apply the recommended costing methodology, or have adhered only after very long delays.
This leads to an unjustified discriminatory treatment of consumers in different Member States and to a transfer of resources between providers in different Member States. As regards consistency of market regulation, just over half of the respondents to the Public Consultation answered that the Art.
However even if the main arguments brought forward were that the Art. With regard to spectrum, despite the fact that the current framework 55 allows the Commission to issue a Recommendation on the harmonised application of spectrum provisions, the governance mechanism in place is not sufficient to facilitate a consistent approach and common EU policy objectives can't be enforced resulting in the problems identified under section 1.
In the public consultation, while several respondents noted delays in the availability of spectrum and fragmentation between conditions of use in different Member States and called for a stronger role of the Commission, others disagreed and stressed the national character of spectrum policy.
The existing spectrum governance structures focus on the harmonisation of technical parameters but do not ensure sufficient consistency of the timing of effective use of spectrum once allocated. Moreover, spectrum is assigned with varying conditions reflecting different national priorities and regarding the objectives of the regulatory framework. This leads to disparate conditions where a national border bisects otherwise similar areas.
The absence of consistent EU-wide objectives and criteria for spectrum assignment, as well as for the conditions applicable to individual rights of use, creates barriers to entry at national level, hinders competition and reduces predictability for investors across Europe.
In the public consultation the views of the operators and of the regulatory community diverged. While operators were in favour of more harmonisation of spectrum assignment procedures, the regulatory community encompassing both BEREC and RSPG was of the view that the EU already benefits from substantial coordination and harmonisation processes, and no further EU-level coordination procedures are necessary. There was nevertheless openness to a peer-review mechanism as regards spectrum assignment.
While Member States reject the need for full harmonisation they are open to a more common approach to spectrum management, and some could accept a peer review of national assignment plans as well as a certain level of harmonisation or approximation of conditions and selection processes. Access to spectrum could also be simplified by placing greater emphasis on general authorisations wherever possible as opposed to individual licenses.
More generally speaking, achieving more regulatory consistency in areas such as spectrum or authorisation requirements might in addition reduce the administrative burden of businesses operating across several Member States, while at the same time supporting the objectives of the framework. Inconsistent regulation across Member States in similar competitive situations and access scenarios makes it burdensome and costly for market players relying on regulated access products to offer services in multiple countries and thus creates artificial barriers to market integration.
Similarly, the lack of harmonised wholesale access products makes it difficult for operators to offer services on cross-border basis. This aspect is of particular concern for business end-users, which, despite benefiting from access regimes under the current regulatory framework, encounter - due to uneven regulation across Member States for which no objective justification may exist - difficulties to obtain fit-for-purpose telecom offers covering all services and countries of operation, and for multi-national telecom providers, which seek to replicate business models in multiple markets.
This leads to higher costs, higher concentration in smaller markets and, ultimately, higher prices and lower quality for end-users As regards the administrative costs of the market analysis process including the costs of three yearly review cycles, stakeholders consider 57 that those are relatively less significant.
However, if review cycles — and indeed remedies — are shorter than needed, an important cost that is created beyond administrative costs, is increased uncertainty concerning the nature and strength of regulation, which can undermine investor confidence in both regulated operators and alternative operators that may be the beneficiaries of regulation.
For service providers that offer services cross border, or the same service in several Member States, the lack of harmonisation of end-user protection rules increases compliance costs and complicates processes, preventing service providers benefitting from economies of scale.
Telecom operators found it difficult to provide robust calculations of all compliance costs and only a few examples are available.
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