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Blog: Telecoms, 5G and the Digital Single Market

Met dank overgenomen van A. (Andrus) Ansip, gepubliceerd op donderdag 23 februari 2017.

Next week I will be back in Barcelona to take part in one of the largest annual fixtures for the international mobile community.

I spoke last year at the Mobile World Congress about mobile as the foundation for digital identity. This year, I will be talking about 5G networks and the 5G economy.

However, since Europe is now at something of a 'crunch point' with telecoms, I want to use the occasion to make some other points as well.

I often say telecommunications are the backbone of the Digital Single Market (DSM). And that remains true. Nothing can function without modern joined-up networks.

Firstly, on 5G, this is no longer just about communicating or making a phone call. Not only do the majority of Europeans now use the internet to buy products, services and connect online with their bank, there is also massive demand for smartphones, tablets and similar devices.

Cloud computing is taking off. So is the app economy.

We will need high-performance connectivity for digital consumer services, industry digitisation and big data. With the Internet of Things (IoT), up to 50 billion objects are likely to be connected worldwide within the next 10 years.

As a basic IoT requirement, we need a new generation of networks and infrastructure. That means 5G, for which we have to be ready very soon.

How do we go about getting 5G deployed across Europe?

It will not happen overnight, which is why we developed the 5G Action Plan as part of the proposed telecoms reform.

To get 5G fully deployed around the EU, we have set target dates so that by 2025, uninterrupted 5G should be available in all urban areas as well as major roads and railways.

The road to 5G

It comes down to three things: vision, speed and cooperation.

Vision: because 5G is an evolution from 4G , but also a revolution. It will transform how people live, work, play and communicate - and transform businesses too.

Speed: because Europe cannot afford to lag behind. Other regions and countries are moving fast in areas like 5G standards and pre-commercial trials. We have to keep up, and preferably lead. Europe has the expertise - let's make the best use of it.

Cooperation: because the many sectors where 5G can be a genuinely new innovation will have to work directly with industry and EU countries to make it a reality.

I will be talking about many other aspects of 5G at the MWC - the issue of setting global standards, for one. That is not an easy issue, technically or politically.

You'll be able to able to learn more next week from the @Ansip_EU Twitter account and my keynote MWC speech that we will afterwards post online here.

I will also be using my time in Barcelona to visit the Commission's Graphene pavilion @GrapheneCA:

I wrote about this revolutionary material in a recent blog.

And of course, I will also hold meetings with industry leaders, experts and policymakers.

This is when I will bring up subjects such as roaming and spectrum.

On roaming, as you may know, the EU has agreed to end roaming surcharges from June 15, removing a source of real frustration for millions of people. After so many years in the making, it is a long-awaited and very welcome final step.

We will be watching carefully to make sure that the new rules are strictly respected.

They include safeguards against abuses and against any rise in domestic prices or threat to generous national deals offered on data.

After all, this is what people expect of us. We are all accountable to them.

And by 'we', I mean telecom operators, national regulators, consumer organisations - as well as the European Commission, European Parliament and EU Member States.

Spectrum, as I have often said, is a cornerstone of 5G - and therefore of the EU's new telecoms rules as well.

Without coordination between countries - not only in Europe, but also globally - and without timely availability of the right amount of spectrum in the right bandwidths, we put Europe's connected digital future at risk.

I don't think I am exaggerating. This is why spectrum is an integral part of our telecoms proposals - and why the proposed Communications Code contains rules for greater predictability and coordination of spectrum assignment.

It requires a pro-competition approach to assigning spectrum and a commitment to provide widespread coverage.

This is not a power game between EU countries and the Commission.

It is about the structure and environment that will best support investments in Europe for building infrastructure that we badly need.

The response from the finance community is undivided: it supports our proposal. That is why it would be a mistake to preserve the status quo.

As usual, there is a lot more to say on telecoms, so I will stop here and encourage you to watch out for my speech in Barcelona next week.

Another blog soon.


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