Industry group GSMA argued recent pressure to maintain the original terms of a key piece of EU legislation is about more than boosting mobile operators’ balance sheets.
Mats Granryd, director general of the association (pictured), said proposed changes to the European Electronic Communication Code risk jeopardising the broader long-term societal and economic benefits it was designed to deliver.
In an open letter to European Council leaders, Granryd said maintaining the original targets of the code would enable the region to regain a position as a technology leader in terms of 5G deployments: something Granryd previously said Europe had lost in the 4G era.
The telecoms industry is not seeing “action focused on delivering tangible results,” despite EU calls to establish a Gigabit Society and ambitions of heads of state to “recapture the region’s digital leadership,” Granryd wrote.
He urged “all European institutions to maintain pressure to reform the telecom framework”; a reference to European Parliament calls to amend some of the key proposals of the code.
Left unchanged, the code “represents a unique opportunity to move away from long antiquated views of the digital market, and finally set out a forward-looking policy that will enable the European Union to again be seen as a centre of technological innovation,” Granryd said.
The director general said European leaders must stay the course on key elements including increasing the term of spectrum licences to a minimum of 25 years, “a proven way to attract more ongoing investment in next generation infrastructure”, and reforming spectrum management: an apparent reference to proposals to harmonise spectrum allocations throughout the region.
Granryd issued his call to ministers ahead of a meeting of the European Council’s Transport, Telecommunications and Energy ministers on 24 October. The letter comes three days after the heads of 30 operators and equipment vendors argued the industry would be better off sticking with current regulations than accepting the European Parliaments’ amendments.
Those changes include increasing the power of national regulators, amid concerns over the power wielded by large companies (so-called oligopolies) in Europe.
The European Commission first outlined its proposals to overhaul existing telecoms rules in 2016 as it sought to ensure adequate funding for development of 5G technology.
Negotiations regarding the code are expected to continue into early 2018.