04 December, 2023

EU Telecoms Council: ETNO calls to support the European connectivity ecosystem

Brussels, 4 December 2023 – ETNO, the Association representing Europe’s leading telecom operators, supports the continued dialogue between EU Member States and the European Commission on accelerating the achievement of the Digital Decade Targets. In view of this week’s Telecommunications Council meeting, we call for political ambition on investment and for a fresh focus on innovation in the EU connectivity ecosystem.

Betting big on Europe’s connectivity ecosystem

The transition to full population coverage with 5G and gigabit connectivity provides a unique opportunity for Europe to generate continued and sustainable economic growth for all European citizens. From digitalized manufacturing to autonomous driving, from smart cities to virtual reality in healthcare, Europe will benefit significantly from innovative telecom networks.

In this context, we call for a fresh, coherent and ambitious industrial policy approach to strengthen Europe’s connectivity ecosystem, which includes not only telecom operators, but also vendors and the wider supply-chain. In a recent Deloitte report for ETNO, we have identified the following seven key technologies that will enable innovation in connectivity: 5G standalone, FTTH and FTTx roll-out, Open RAN, network virtualization and softwarisation, edge computing, quantum encryption as well as low-earth orbit satellite communications. We call on Member States to take a comprehensive industrial policy approach to such technologies, so that Europe can grow into a digital value-chain leader.

Being bold on investment in network infrastructure

With Europe’s investment needs in connectivity being estimated at over €200bn by the European Commission, we also require bold measures to create an investment-conducive environment.

The biggest chunk of investment will be required to extend coverage of new networks mainly through 5G and FTTH roll-out and improve the capacity of existing networks, as per the Commission estimates. In addition, we should also focus on investment in innovation: Open RAN, Network Function Virtualization, and Software-defined Networks are expected to also have a significant impact in terms of capital expenditure, each falling within the €10 billion to €100 billion range by 2030.

In this context, we strongly agree on the need to work on a “sustainable financing model” for the sector, as emerged both in a recent Commission announcement and at the León Informal Council meeting.

Reforming our rulebook to support EU digital leadership

We support a thorough and ambitious reform of the telecom rulebook aimed at unleashing the potential of the European connectivity ecosystem. We believe that the completion of the European telecom Single Market will play a pivotal role in this. Current telecom rules are overly complex and they should be cut down significantly. This is key to ensure a harmonized telecom Single market across Europe, as opposed to the currently fragmented approaches at national level, caused by differing approaches of national regulators.

From spectrum policy to data, from security to the implementation of telecom rules, we need an extraordinary effort to finally create a telecom Single Market that benefits both users on the demand side as well as small and big businesses in the connectivity value-chain. With the European connectivity ecosystem evolving rapidly through innovation, in-market and cross-market scale will be a critical factor in creating EU digital leadership.

© ETNO 2024
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