GSMA, the mobile industry association, said concern over the European Telecoms Single Market Package presents an opportunity to take “a fresh look at the region’s telecoms single market future”.
Following the Council of Ministers’ rejection of large parts of the single market package yesterday, Tom Phillips, the chief regulatory officer for the GSMA (pictured), said: “A bold new vision is required, which deals decisively with issues such as the new internet bottlenecks and the years of accumulated legacy regulation that have held back investment in Europe’s networks.”
Phillips said clear long-term thinking is required to address these issues and the GSMA is urging the Council of Ministers, European Commission and Parliament to start work “as fast as possible”.
Despite falling revenues, increased regulation and a challenging economic climate, Phillips said the telecoms industry is playing a key role in building Europe’s digital future. The industry will invest close to €30 billion annually on next-generation networks between now and 2020, according to the GSMA.
Phillips said the Commission’s proposed investment plan is “a step in the right direction” but that there is an opportunity to create policies that “further boost investment and support innovation”.
Phillips noted that while there is “a legacy of outdated telecom-focused regulation”, major internet players are “largely unregulated”.
He asserted that the balance between the rules for telecoms operators, “who are actively investing in Europe’s digital infrastructures”, and internet companies needs to be redressed if the region is to regain its digital leadership.
Phillips backed a general principles-based approach to the Open Internet proposals, as it would avoid overly prescriptive rules “that risk undermining crucial network management and innovation that make the internet work for everyone”.
The GSMA regulatory chief added that there should be a “broad and bold reform” of spectrum policy, to support harmonised spectrum deployment for mobile broadband and its associated socio-economic benefits.
Earlier this week, the European Commission’s vice president for the digital single market, Andrus Ansip, said he is “worried” about the direction that negotiations over the Telecoms Single Market package have taken in the European Council, where member states appear divided on the issue.
The package was proposed by the European Commission in September 2013 and includes action on roaming charges, coordinating spectrum licensing for wireless broadband, net neutrality and provisions to make it easier for consumers to switch service providers.
The package received a thumbs up from the European Parliament and is now in its final legislative stage, which involves negotiations between the Commission and member states in the European Council.