There is no 'one-size-fits-all' approach to the gigabit society

Written by Cora van Nieuwenhuizen on 12 July 2017 in Opinion

Technology neutrality should be a fundamental principle in the construction of the gigabit society, says Cora van Nieuwenhuizen.

Cora van Nieuwenhuizen | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual

The digital single market (DSM) is one of the EU' main priorities. It will stimulate the modern European economy that we need so badly to stay competitive on a global scale. It is absolutely necessary to create new jobs.

Within the DSM, the gigabit society and very high capacity (VHC) networks can be a powerful engine for innovation in Europe. It will open up a large potential of disruptive change across industries and create new use cases. High quality services and products, revenue streams and business models will boost the competitiveness of our industries and improve consumer satisfaction.

The development of the gigabit society and VHC networks is a necessity for the transition to a modern, data-driven economy for Europe by enabling the Internet of Things and cloud computing. 5G will be a key building block of the gigabit society, representing the standard for the future in mobile communication technologies.


Policy actions related to the gigabit society and 5G should be demand-driven, based on a sound analysis of the current and future needs of consumers and businesses.

They should also be proportionate, frequently revised and in accordance with the innovation principle, so that potential effects on innovation will be part of the impact assessment of any legislation.

Sector players should benefit from a level playing field. They should be free to design their own networks, choose their own investment model and most appropriate technology.

And this should be including fibre-to-the-home (FTTH), Wi-Fi,, 2G, cable, satellite, novel 5G technologies such as Massive MIMO or any other rapid development technologies that will help connect all Europeans to VHC networks.

Therefore, technology neutrality should be a fundamental principle in the construction of the gigabit society. A 'one size fits all' technology approach should be avoided because each region and sector is unique. 

All relevant actors will need to assess the appropriateness of different technologies and infrastructures in their specific situations and geographical locations. 5G mobile communications need to be complemented by technologies like satellite communications and high-speed WiFi.

Fair competition and a level playing field for market participants are key necessities for the deployment of the gigabit society by market participants. The principle of 'same services, same rules' should apply in this respect.

Last, but surely not least, it is very important that there is cooperation between academia, research institutions, the private sector and the public sector on research and development concerning 5G mobile communications. 

There clearly is a need to join forces if Europe wants to be successful worldwide, because the rest of the world is also investing heavily in these new technologies - take for example the 5G project in South Korea for the Winter Olympics.

If all the requirements are met, 5G will enable new high quality services, connect new industries and ultimately improve the customer experience for increasingly sophisticated and demanding digital users.

5G can also offer solutions to important societal challenges through its ability to significantly cut the energy use of mobile devices and through its transformative potential of sectors like health and transport - a real win-win situation.


About the author

Cora van Nieuwenhuizen (NL) is Parliament's ALDE group shadow rapporteur on internet connectivity for growth, competitiveness and cohesion

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