In an effort to stimulate an upturn in European telecoms rollouts, European Commissioner for internal markets Thierry Breton proposed a radical shake-up of how mobile spectrum is licenced. 

Speaking on the keynote stage yesterday the politician suggested to ensure everyone in Europe could benefit from the most advanced mobile technologies licences should be awarded not to the highest bidder, but to the operator committing to invest in faster network rollouts. 

“European businesses and citizens are always at the centre of our ambition, but we must balance the focus with the need for a competitive and modern economy,” Breton said.  

“We should have the same spectrum policy throughout Europe and push for more timely and affordable options. In regard to 6G, we cannot afford to encounter delays in the spectrum licencing process with huge disparities in timeline between member states. We cannot tolerate same the outcome as for 5G where the process after eight years is still not complete.” 

He added operators should be able to take advantage of economies of scale, reach critical size and ultimately attract more investment and deploy new technology faster.  

“Thanks to this principle,” he continued, “we will finally create a true digital single market, together with a compelling business case for operator to engage in cross border consolidation.” 

“This also means demystifying the question of the optimal number of operators per country. Because there is no magic number in this field.” 

Commenting on the current status of networks in Europe, Breton said today’s were not up to performance requirement, with latency of around 200 milliseconds “which is much too long to ensure reliable monitoring vital telemetry or to prevent accident between connected vehicles.” 

“Investment is needed now to bridge the gap,” he added. No less than €200 billion euros are need over the next five to six years, and this is only for completing the rollout of 5G”.