Ensuring Europe’s Leadership in 5G

November 21, 2016 | | Daniel Pataki

What will it take to ensure that Europe becomes a leader in 5G and what will this mean for mobile operators, business and European citizens? Is industry doing enough? How can policymakers shape an inclusive society where all European citizens can participate in and feel part of the digital economy?

These were some of the questions debated at our recent breakfast meeting in the European Parliament titled Ensuring Europe’s Leadership in 5G: Driving Investment and Competition in the Networks of the Future.

Hosted by Mr. Michal Boni MEP, the European Parliament’s Rapporteur on 5G and the Gigabit Society, and featuring contributions from Daniel Pataki, GSMA; Thibault Kleiner, Deputy Head of Cabinet for Commissioner Ottinger; Markus Reinisch, Vodafone; Peter Olson, Ericsson; and Stephen Howard, HSBC, the meeting explored how the policy environment can drive investment and competition for the benefit of European citizens.

Addressing an audience of MEPs, the Commission, Member States and the telecoms community, the meeting provided mobile sector representatives with an opportunity to stress that legislation is absolutely central to Europe’s ability to achieve its connectivity goals.

The GSMA set out three clear requirements of the new ‘Gigabit Society’ policy:

  • An update to the regulation on network access to ensure the telecoms market will become a more attractive place for investment
  • Extending rules that have long applied to mobile operators to online providers of similar services, thereby moving towards greater consumer safety and addressing distortions caused by asymmetric regulation
  • Coordinated release of spectrum bands with longer licence terms to avoid fragmentation, costly roll out, and providing operators with the confidence to make long-term investments

Debate in the session focused on the need for investment in the infrastructure to deliver 5G services. Early planning for spectrum access and increased spectrum harmonisation was addressed, along with the need for the broader industry, not only the mobile community, to be part of the investment cycle. The requirement for mobile operators to work closely with vertically integrated sectors, for example the automotive industry and the health sector, was also noted, with speakers recognizing that all players in the digital ecosystems have a responsibility to create an environment to encourage economic growth.

Crucial points stressed by industry speakers was the importance of leaving technology choices to the market, and to treat mobile networks as enabling platforms, not as utilities from which governments can extract the highest return.

Participants concluded the meeting by broadly welcoming the Commission’s initiative as a positive step for ongoing innovation and investment. The GSMA looks forward to continuing its dialogue with policymakers as the debate continues in the legislative cycle.

PDF download: Seven Policy Actions for a New Telecoms Framework in Europe

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