CEOs of nine of the largest operators in Europe including Vodafone, Orange and Deutsche Telekom joined the GSMA in calling on EU ministers to back an “investment-friendly” spectrum framework.

Ahead of an EU ministerial meeting scheduled on 18 July to discuss the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC), the executives highlighted the need for spectrum policy reform, noting inadequate action risks stifling digital innovation and growth.

The heads of KPN, Telenor, Telecom Italia, Vodafone Group, Telia, Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica, Telekom Austria, Orange Group and the GSMA signed an open letter to ministers outlining their recommendations.

In the letter, the companies echoed earlier calls for 25-year spectrum licences with presumption of renewal at expiry, efficient peer review framework for sharing best practice, voluntary spectrum sharing options and a “fee structure that reflects efficient and effective use of the spectrum as well as coverage commitments.”

“We see this as an unprecendented chance to champion genuine spectrum policy reform, that will position Europe as a true global leader,” they wrote, adding: “Reforming the current spectrum rules is of the utmost importance.”

“Failure to establish a well-functioning and investment-friendly spectrum framework risks stifling innovation, growth and development for decades to come. This will not only impact the mobile industry, but also adjacent sectors that increasingly rely on connectivity and digitalisation.”

Following the publication of the draft EECC in September 2016, it emerged representatives from several member states including Spain, the UK and Germany were against the award of 25-year licences to operators.

Opponents believe the award of long licences would hamper the abilities of regulators to respond to developments in the market and restrict innovation as licences would often last longer than the technology they were designed to support.