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Europe’s telecoms execs call for a new industrial policy

Europe’s telecoms CEOs have issued their latest vision for Europe’s next policy agenda, via the European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association (ETNO), highlighting that with 5G and artificial intelligence (AI) at the doorstep, “the network and services landscape is about to be revolutionised. Capital intensity continues to rise, as we deploy the cutting-edge networks required for Europe to stay competitive in the digital age. European telcos are boosting their capital expenditure levels at an annual average rate increase of 5% since 2010 and yearly telecoms investment has now reached over €47bn. However, declining returns could make this investment effort unsustainable in the long run.” Telcos, they say, can empower citizens and businesses with unprecedented opportunities: 5G will provide widespread and ultrafast high-quality connectivity. At the same time, the value of the EU data economy is expected to increase to €739bn by 2020, or 4% of total EU GDP.  AI promises smarter networks empowering users with ever convenient and customised services. European industrial leaders, and telcos specifically, are evolving towards new business models based on data. If regulation does not hamper innovation, this will reinforce a trust-based relationship with customers, says ETNO. This will require Europe to stay ahead of the game, at a time when 5G subscribers’ projections see Asia dominating with 900 million users in 2025, as opposed to only 178 million in Europe. Similarly, Asia is currently leading on the share of AI patents, with Japan, China and Korea representing 61% of the total, as opposed to 17.9% for the US and 10% of the European OECD countries. ETNO is calling for a new industrial policy supporting Europe’s global leadership in digital technologies, to include a “massive cost-reduction initiative” aimed at facilitating the rollout and operation of digital networks. This could imply, for example, actions as diverse as reducing energy costs, resolutely cutting red tape for deployment or slashing times to obtain permits. “On the other hand, Europe should introduce a new investment-and-innovation-readiness test for all new proposed regulation. This would include a commitment not to elevate new barriers to innovation and investment when adopting new legislation. A new simplified approach to regulation that provides incentives for agents that assume investor risk is essential for any meaningful leadership aspiration in the digital world. It is crucial that the implementation of the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) prioritises massive network investment.” ETNO concludes: “This means ensuring a swift and pro-5G approach to spectrum, including license conditions and prices that fully recognise long-term objectives. Similarly, the work of BEREC on the EECC guidelines and the transposition in national laws should ensure all fibre investments are incentivised.”  ETNO has also published a blog post on concerns about the European copyright legislation. Se  more and here.

  • Monday, 22 October 2018

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