Kathy Gibson is at Mobile World Congress 2019 in Barcelona – The GSMA is calling on the European parliament to modernise regulation and create the right conditions for a new era of intelligent connectivity.
The organisation has launched “The Mobile Industry Manifesto for Europe” on behalf of its European members, highlighting its vision for Europe’s digital future. Ahead of the European Parliament elections this spring.
Europe has the highest rate of mobile connectivity compared with other regions, and the mobile industry’s contribution to the EU’s GDP is projected to grow from €550-billion annually to €720-billion by 2022. Supported by the right policy environment, Europe has the potential to increase 5G take-up to 30% of all connections by 2025.
“Our networks have made Europe stronger, enabling citizens and businesses to reap the benefits of digital transformation,” says Afke Schaart, vice-president and head of Europe at the GSMA. “As we enter an era of intelligent connectivity there is much more that connectivity can make possible — for a greener planet, more liveable cities, more efficient industries and more united societies.
“For citizens to benefit from this innovation, we must address the barriers holding back the mobile industry in Europe through progressive regulation. Our industry is at the heart of the digital experience and, with our manifesto for Europe, we are ready to work together with policymakers to invigorate Europe’s economies.”
The manifesto describes the barriers facing Europe in two parts: network infrastructure and digital services.
On the network infrastructure side the policy environment in Europe is cited as not sufficiently supportive of network investment. Delivering 5G connectivity will stretch operators’ financial resources to the limit it says. The challenge is how to meet government’s coverage obligations even where there is no business justification for it. It has been estimated that the rollout cost for 5G across Europe will be significantly higher than for 4G, at between €300-billion and €500-billion.
The GSMA is calling on national regulators to foster innovation and investment, rather than simply transferring regulation for today’s products to tomorrow’s highly differentiated 5G networks. It is inviting governments to improve the investment environment through lower spectrum fees and siting costs, and reviewing telecoms-specific taxes.
On services, the manifesto highlights that we are at a critical moment of declining trust in digital services. At a time when EU citizens expect companies to be more transparent and accountable regarding the use of their data, the mobile industry is asking policy makers to apply the same service, same rules principle across the digital economy (to ensure better consumer protection within the EU and fair competition among all players).
Operators are also calling for a new network security reference for Europe, leveraging the expertise of the operator community and building on existing accepted national and international standards and best practice.
“Working with governments, we will lead and champion innovation that will help Europe take advantage of the huge technological changes we see,” adds Schaart. “We will play our role so European citizens feel digitally empowered and protected at the same time.”