The status quo is not an option; if nothing changes, the Digital Decade connectivity targets will not be met

Daniel Pataki, Vice President of Policy and Regulation & Head of Europe at GSMA | Source: GSMA

By Daniel Pataki

Daniel Pataki is Vice President of Policy and Regulation & Head of Europe at GSMA

31 May 2022

Today, we are at a crucial juncture for communications technology in Europe. Mobile technology has a crucial role to play as governments look to reinvigorate their economies and build a better, more inclusive society while tackling the climate crisis. The telecoms industry fully supports the political ambition and the vision laid down in the EU’s ‘Digital Decade’ strategy. However, if nothing changes the Digital Decade connectivity targets will not be met.

Mobile networks are vital to economic recovery and future crisis resilience and will help trigger a green and digital transformation across Europe. Already two years into Digital Decade, the connectivity target of “Gigabit for everyone, 5G everywhere” has never felt more urgent. As economies and societies around the world digitalise, the acceleration of 5G in Europe is essential to maintain and amplify Europe’s industrial and manufacturing strengths.

Getting 5G right should be a top priority for the EU

Policymakers and regulators should ensure that regulatory action at the EU and national level is coherent with the Digital Decade vision and create pro-investment policies to drive economic growth and social welfare.

While 5G has the potential to deliver a significant amount of value to the region, the mobile sector remains heavily regulated and influenced by fragmented policy frameworks. The current regulatory environment is creating an investment gap and stifling innovation.

Tough market conditions in Europe mean investment capital for telecom operators is hard to come by. As a result, over the past decade, Europe has invested 40 per cent less per capita in its telecom networks than the US.

Furthermore, persistent government or regulatory interventions and resistance to consolidation artificially distort competition, leading to poorer service and outcomes for consumers and businesses.

To ensure Europe grasps control of its digital future, it is vital to create the right conditions for private infrastructure investment, network modernisation, and digital innovation. A financially sustainable mobile sector is key to the delivery of innovative services and the deployment of new networks.

We encourage policymakers to collaborate with the private sector to stimulate the investment in next-generation networks that will form a backbone for Europe’s economic recovery by enabling employment, entrepreneurship, and innovation while supporting the achievement of essential climate-related goals.

A lifeline in times of crisis

In these unprecedented times in Europe, our thoughts are with those most impacted by the conflict in Ukraine.  Mobile connectivity is a lifeline, as we saw in the global pandemic, providing access to essential services such as health and education.

Mobile network operators have provided humanitarian programmes recognising the importance of connectivity in times of crisis. We hope that these measures go some way to lighten the burden faced by the millions of people displaced and seeking refuge.

This article reflects the views of the author and not the views of The Parliament Magazine or of the Dods Group

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