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Telecoms groups express concern about direction of EU regulatory reforms

Telecoms bodies have expressed concern that planned regulatory reforms in the EU may not provide sufficient support for them to invest in new 5G technologies.08 Jun 2017

A coalition of six trade bodies said discussions among law makers over a new European Electronic Communications Code and e-Privacy Regulation "seem to have lost their focus on the importance of 5G as one of the key technologies that will underpin the ecosystem and the competitiveness of newly connected sectors of the European economy".

The coalition, which includes the European Telecommunications Network Operators Association (ETNO) and GSMA, which represents mobile network operators, said law makers at the European Parliament and Council of Ministers appear to favour "a more timid approach" than the one advocated by telecoms company executives.

"Telecoms reform should ensure, in particular: a regulatory environment that puts investment at its core, including a cross-sectorial perspective; pro-innovation rules that allow the development of new business models and services across sectors and ensure that the development of IoT and machine-to-machine services is not hampered; a harmonised and predictable spectrum policy; flexible privacy requirements empowering innovation in data-driven markets and through mobile connectivity," the coalition said in a statement.

The group said, however, that law makers look set to "further increase rules and complexity" with their plans for a new Electronic Communications Code and e-Privacy Regulation. ETNO and GSMA have previously called into question whether new e-Privacy rules are required at all.

The development of 5G will be "essential" to the use of connected and autonomous vehicles, and also support organisations in other "critical sectors", including health and manufacturing, it said.

"The proposed European Electronic Communications Code and the e-Privacy Regulation should be seen as instruments to enable widespread innovation in all networks, services and business models," the coalition said.

"Our associations therefore call on all the EU institutions to maintain a high level of ambition to ensure that the strategic 5G objectives remain at the core of Europe’s digital reforms," it said. "The upcoming regulatory choices on telecoms and privacy laws need to be fully coherent with the overarching aim of increasing network investment, allowing more space for innovation, boosting the competitiveness of Europe’s vertical industries and creating further choice for European consumers."