Europe not ambitious about 5G – believe ETNO, GSMA

A conceptual 5G network. Source: European Commission 5G PPP METISA conceptual 5G network. Source: European Commission 5G PPP METIS

Belgium —

The telecoms industry is concerned about the current legislative debate on the future of mobile connectivity and spectrum management in Europe. As the European Parliament and Member States discuss amendments to the draft European Electronic Communications Code, ETNO and the GSMA fear that legislators have abandoned their ambitions for 5G roll-out in Europe.

5G and the gigabit society require ambitious spectrum reform

5G is set to empower citizens and businesses with widespread ultra-fast connectivity and innovative new services. The European industry and the European Commission have set ambitious plans to launch by 2020, in the context of a global race to make the most out of 5G. The technology and regulatory requirements were set out in the European Commission’s “5G Action Plan” as well as in the industry’s “Manifesto” for timely deployment of 5G in Europe”. Both documents identify spectrum reform as the main pre-condition to a timely roll-out of new 5G networks and services.

Further, spectrum measures in the Code have been identified as one of the major pro-investment aspects of the on-going telecoms reform. This makes them extremely relevant to the achievement of both Europe’s 5G objectives and of a European Gigabit Society.

Essential elements of spectrum reform

Our members are committed to achieving the 5G and gigabit society objectives, but Europe’s ambition needs to be mirrored in all the upcoming legislative choices. In particular, legislators should recognize the importance of greater predictability and licensing clarity as tools to incentivise continuous investment in mobile networks, vibrant innovation and competitive mobile markets. This investment is critical if Europe is to be a front-runner in mobile broadband and 5G.

For these reasons, ETNO and the GSMA believe that several aspects of the Commission proposal should be maintained or strengthened, as they constitute an essential pre-requisite for the achievement of the goals set out in the 5G Action Plan. More specifically, we call on the co-legislators to:

  • Ensure greater certainty and predictability over future rights of use;
  • Ensure predictability of all licensing conditions;
  • Support easier spectrum trading and leasing proposals;
  • Allow for a neutral approach in terms of general authorisations and spectrum sharing, and ensure alignment with international rules in terms of interferences;
  • Encourage greater consistency among Member States in approaches to spectrum awards;
  • Continue enabling freedom to compete and differentiate through voluntary sharing and under competition law, as opposed to introducing ex-ante regulatory measures.

Lise Fuhr, Director General of ETNO, said, “The EU institutional debate risks delaying a major source of societal and economic growth. 5G is the essential platform to provide new services to consumers and businesses”.

Afke Schaart, Vice-President Europe at GSMA, said, “European legislators are now at a watershed moment. The level of ambition to roll out 5G in Europe asserted in the European Electronic Communications Code, must now be maintained to ensure that the European citizens reap the benefits of innovation brought about by the ‘Gigabit Society’”.