06 May, 2015

ETNO ThinkDigital Blog Post: MEP Hökmark’s #ThinkDigital vision of the future

With the publication of the European Commission's Digital Single Market Strategy, MEP Hökmark reiterates his view following the first #ThinkDigital event on 22 April 2015: “It is in our hands to give Europe its strength and leadership back: the more advanced services our networks will allow for, the more businesses will invest in them.”

It is the development of new services that defines the future logic of business models regarding broadband deployment and accessibility to ultra speed capacities, be it fixed cables or mobile broadband of old, and new, generations. As new services become more important for business and for households this also changes the economic rationality of investments and costs.

To put it simple, broadband and internet with just media services and social media will never give the same economic reason as broadband for rural areas creating new opportunities for agriculture and farming, bringing the services of health, governance and education closer to people living far away from city centres, making it possible for the farmers tractors to work without a driver, etcetera, etcetera in this case because neither you nor I know what will come.

This provides us with a paradoxical logic of the new generations of broadband deployment. Relatively more expensive deployment of ultra speed capacities, let us talk about Gbs and not even mention Mbs, will create exponentially higher incomes provided by an exponential development of commercial and crucial services. To pay 100 euros for a connection which gives you social media, email and media can be a good choice but to pay 1000 euros or more and get a sustainable business model that can replace much higher costs of another kind is much more profitable and worth doing.

So let´s proceed like this:

Implement already taken decisions regarding the telecom market. The decisions on spectrum allocation need to be implemented. The rules for competition need to be respected. National regulators need to enforce that incumbents are challenged by new entrants. The prices are lower, the capacities better and the penetration higher the more competition there is. If the European Commission is failing in decisiveness here it doesn’t matter what new targets we will set.

Allocate more spectrum on a European coordinated manner. The 800Mhz band must be opened up in all countries but now is the time to act regarding the 700Mhz band. Europe needs to secure, as described above, that we have the best capacities, highest speeds and available resources facing the rapid increase of mobile Internet and new generations of services.

New frequencies and new nets should be opened up for European services and for networks operating all over EU. It can be pan European operators or national operators cooperating in joint European networks.

By the development of shared nets and virtual nets we can rather rapidly achieve European networks without roaming but with a better scale of economy attracting more investments, not only in the operators networks but also in the services made possible by the capacities of tomorrow. The costs for roaming can only be eliminated by eliminating the need for roaming.

The focus for the single telecom market must be on legislation for wholesale operator access to eachothers networks and agreements that will not squeeze out smaller operators but enable them to compete and to serve their customers all over Europe.

Establish a lead regarding the fixed cables and black fibre, facilitating the superior speeds and capacities we need. The structural funds need to contribute to financing in those areas where it is not commercially possible, in a way that enforces competition.

By the combination of spectrum more than enough for the rapid increase of mobile services and black fibre Europe will be able to talk about Gigabits instead of Megabits, ensuring our universities, research centres, entrepreneurs and companies the highest speeds in the world and a capacity that leaves room for the exponential increase of mobile data communication that today is a precondition for competitive business and successful societies.

Net Neutrality will be a reality without blocking or hindering new services emerging on the net.

We need a European framework for copyrights. Services that today are blocked must be made open all over Europe. Otherwise European entertainment industries are deemed to fragmentation and lack of competiveness. This is better for the rightsholders and for the audience. For the emergence of competitive European services it is fundamental.

Lets go for a European sales law for Internet sales and for the digital economy. If you buy a Swedish service or product from Spain you need to know your rights as well as the companies need to have one set of rule when they are marketing on one single market.

Establish a common system for VAT in EU, with respect to the different taxes in the member states but with one structure to manage the VAT payments when services are cross borders.

Doing this will not only give us the lead in the digital economy. It will enforce European competitiveness, integrate our regions and societies and connect us all to a Europe standing strong and united and leading the global economy. Some fights need to be fought.

Broadcasters will try to stop the future. National regulators will want to keep the national regulations and the structures they have developed. Some governments will guard their frequencies in the structures from the past. Some incumbents will try to stop their challengers. Different groups will try to block the use of structural funds in order to preserve the past.

But it is in our hands to give Europe its strength and leadership back. Nothing less and nothing more is what we should do. And the logic is quite obvious: the more advanced services our networks allow for, the more businesses will invest in them.

By MEP Gunnar Hökmark for ETNO #ThinkDigital, Brussels, 06.05.2015



Gunnar Hökmark has been a Member of the European Parliament since 2004. Active in the ITRE committee, Mr Hökmark is one of the leading MEPs in the field of telecoms and the digital single market. In the last mandate of the European Parliament he was the Parliament´s Rapporteur on the Radio Spectrum Policy Programme. Mr Hökmark is also a Member of the ECON committee where he is currently responsible in the EP for the banking structural reform legislation. Mr Hökmark holds a degree in business administration and economics.

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