ETNO and GSMA urge “ambition” from EU on 5G spectrum

News

A botched approach to 5G by the European Union would damage the economy and society, the GSMA and European Telecommunications Network Operators association has warned.

In a joint statement aimed at EU authorities, the two groups said European lawmakers need to be ambitious as they discuss amendments to the draft European Electronic Communications Code, which will specify the future of 5G policymaking.

They said that incentivising investment would be critical if Europe was to be a front-runner in 5G, calling for authorities to ensure greater certainty and predictability over rights of use as well as licensing conditions.

They said legislators should support proposals to make spectrum trading, sharing and leasing easier. In addition, they asked for consistency among Member States on approaching the awarding of spectrum.

The statement also said that authorities should continue to enable competition and differentiation through voluntary sharing under existing competition law, rather than introduce new regulation.

Lise Fuhr, Director General of ETNO, said: “The EU institutional debate risks delaying a major source of societal and economic growth. 5G is the essential platform to provide new services to consumers and businesses."

Afke Schaart, Vice-President Europe at GSMA, said: “The level of ambition to roll out 5G in Europe asserted in the European Electronic Communications Code, must now be maintained to ensure that the European citizens reap the benefits of innovation brought about by the ‘Gigabit Society’."

The code, which was first unveiled in September last year, pledged to offer a stable and streamlined regulatory environment. It aims to apply regulation to the market only in the interest of end-users and where commercial arrangements are not delivering competitive outcomes.

The EU believes that investments triggered by the new code could boost the EU’s GDP by an additional €910 billion and create 1.3 million new jobs between 2016 and 2025.

In March, the EU agreed to coordinate the use of the ultra-high frequency (470-790MHz) spectrum band for wireless communications as it looks towards 5G deployment.

The EU is also pledging more than €50 billion to speed up the development of "priority" standards for 5G and cybersecurity, as well as to accelerate the digitisation of the continent.

The Dutch government recently unveiled plans to auction the 700MHz band, amongst others.

In the UK, Ofcom is re-planning the frequencies used by broadcasting services in the 700MHz band to avoid disruption to these services.