LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 EUROPE: Andrus Ansip, European Commission VP for the Digital Single Market, proclaimed he “cannot stress enough how important it is to have coordinated EU-wide spectrum as we progress rapidly toward the age of 5G connectivity”.
“Without mobile broadband we will not achieve the goals of the Digital Single Market. Coordinated spectrum is vital for a fully connected digital society and economy. It will help attract investment and to make the next 5G mobile communications generation a success,” he said.
The EC has already proposed a plan for harmonisation of 700MHz spectrum, which is working its way through the regulatory channels now.
“It is important that we do not slip behind the 2020 deadline. It will be a landmark year for the potential worldwide update of 5G technology. We already know that 5G will need to use a large bandwidth of radio spectrum. I would like to see full agreement reached on the 700MHz proposal within the European Council and Parliament by the end of 2016,” Ansip said.
But he also acknowledged that there will be challenges in bringing this to fruition, but that “they can be achieved if we work together”.
“I am aware that discussion on this subject will be tough. But I see it as a chance for all of us to move beyond national interest and think European. This is not about national budgets, but about the future of Europe. And as I have said before, this is not about taking money from EU countries. Revenue from auctions will remain within national budgets, but we should work together to maximise public goals, and not simply one-off revenue.”
Away from spectrum harmonisation, Ansip highlighted the need for a regulatory environment that promotes investment.
“We have to think how to incentivise investments where the market cannot achieve this on its own. In whichever sector they operate, investors need long-term certainty, not constant shifting of goalposts or changing regulatory environments. This means setting an appropriate and stable regulatory environment and reducing divergences between regulatory practices,” he said.
But Ansip also argued that “competition is the starting point for the solution”.
“Competition will attract investment in the high-speed broadband networks that European consumers need, leading to better and more affordable services. This is not a battle between competition and investment, it is a balance. Europe’s telecom rules are, and will continue to be, based on the principles of competition law,” he said.