EU industry chief Thierry Breton (pictured) indicated he is taking an open-minded approach to the big issue of “fair share” and who should fund the rollout of 5G and broadband networks in future.

In reference to a 12-week consultation launched by the European Commission last week, Breton emphasised that although it has been described by many as a battle over fair share between big telco and big tech, “that is not how I see things”.

“Of course, we will need to find a financing model for the huge investment, fairly distributed,” he said. “For me, the real challenge is to make sure that by 2030 our fellow citizens and business on our streets across the EU have access to fast, reliable and data-intense Gigabit connectivity. And for that, we need the connectivity networks of the future.”

Breton also pointed out that, like industry, regulation also has to adapt to the changing times.

“We rely on regulatory frameworks that were conceived on the basis of legacy technologies, relying on copper lines and physical network switches, and on forcing incumbents to abandon their copper networks. But what is at stake today is very different,” he said. “We are not making the most of the potential of our EU single market.”

It is also time, he said, that “we have a serious discussion about the possible existing obstacles to cross-border consolidation of electronic communications providers in the EU as well as the benefits of an integrated radio spectrum market.”

Ending on a positive note, Breton said Europe has excellence in research and innovation, “and we are ready to lead the 6G race”.