GSMA asks EU Governments for lower spectrum fees and siting costs as well as reviewing telecoms-specific taxes through Industry Manifesto

Policy environment in Europe not enough supportive of network investment hinders 5G deployment

Eva González Barcelona (Madrid), 26 February, 2019

The GSMA today launched ‘The Mobile Industry Manifesto for Europe’ on behalf of its European members. The Manifesto highlighs its vision for Europe’s digital future. Ahead of the European Parliament elections this spring, the manifesto calls on policymakers in Europe to modernise regulation and create the right conditions for a new era of intelligent connectivity.

“Our networks have made Europe stronger enabling citizens and businesses to reap the benefits of digital transformation,” said Afke Schaart, VP & Head of Europe, GSMA. “As we enter an era of Intelligent Connectivity there is much more that connectivity can make possible for a greener planet, more liveable cities, more efficient industries and more united societies. For citizens to benefit from this innovation, we must address the barriers holding back the mobile industry in Europe through progressive regulation. Our industry is at the heart of the digital experience, and with our manifesto for Europe we are ready to work together with policymakers to invigorate Europe’s economies.”

With the highest rate of mobile connectivity compared with other regions, the mobile industry’s contribution to the EU’s GDP is projected to grow from €550 Bn annually to €720 Bn by 2022. Supported by the right policy environment, Europe has the potential to increase 5G take-up to 30% of all connections by 2025.

But there are barriers that may hinder this growth and 5G deployment. The manifesto describes these barriers in two parts: network infrastructure and digital services.

Improving network performance, the first challenge

The rollout cost for 5G across Europe are estimated to be significantly higher than for 4G, at between €300 Bn and €500 Bn.

But the policy environment in Europe does not support sufficiently furhter investment in the network field. Delivering 5G connectivity will stretch operators’ financial resources to the manifesto points.

Afke Schaart (VP and Head of Europe, Russia and CIS GSMA) at GSMA-EIF debate on 24th February just before the official inauguration of the Mobile World Congress 2019. © GSMA via Afke Schaart tweet.

The challenge is how to meet government’s coverage obligations even where there is no business justification for it, says the Manifesto.

Therefore GSMA is calling on national regulators to foster innovation and investment, rather than simply transferring regulation for today’s products to tomorrow’s highly differentiated 5G networks. Being more specific, GSMA invites governments to improve the investment environment through lower spectrum fees and siting costs, and reviewing telecoms-specific taxes.

Enhancing digital confidence, an actual need

the manifesto highlights that we are at a critical moment of declining trust in digital services. At a time when EU citizens expect companies to be more transparent and accountable regarding the use of their data, the mobile industry is asking policy makers to apply the same service, same rules principle across the digital economy (to ensure better consumer protection within the EU and fair competition among all players). Operators are also calling for a new network security reference for Europe, leveraging the expertise of the operator community and building on existing accepted national and international standards and best practice.

“Working with governments, we will lead and champion innovation that will help Europe take advantage of the huge technological changes we see,” added Schaart. “We will play our role so European citizens feel digitally empowered and protected at the same time.”

Image over the headline.- Mats Granryd (Director General GSMA) in the meeting between GSMA European telecom CEOs and EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger held this morning at the Mobile World Congress 2019. © GSMA via Afke Schaart tweet.