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17 July 2017
| James Pearce
European mobile operators have upped pressure on Brussels to end resistance to longer spectrum licences by saying a failure to do so could discourage investment.
The letter, signed by the CEOs of
some of Europe’s biggest telcos, called on the EU
to carry out "genuine spectrum reform" with ministers due to
meet in Tallinn, Estonia on 18 July to discuss 5G deployment
The CEOs of Deutsche Telekom, KPN, Orange, Telecom Italia,
Telefónica, Telekom Austria, Telenor Group, Telia
Company, Vodafone Group, and the GSMA signed an open letter
asking for the introduction of a minimum spectrum licence
length of 25 years.
It is the latest move by European telcos, who have warned
that Europe faces falling behind other developed markets in
deploying 5G if it fails to reform spectrum.
The letter said: "As leaders of the mobile industry in
Europe and ahead of your Informal Ministerial Meeting on the
18th of July 2017, we would like to express our deep concerns
regarding current discussions on the spectrum elements of the
proposed European Electronic Communication Code.
"We see this as an unprecendented chance to champion genuine
spectrum policy reform, that will position Europe as a true
The letter outlines four suggestions for reform that the
operators want EU regulators to look at. These are:
• The introduction of clear
provisions addressing the predictability of future rights,
notably minimum license duration of 25 years coupled with a
strong presumption of renewal;
• An effective and efficient
peer-review mechanism to spur the sharing of best practice over
award design and procedures;
• The ability to compete, innovate
and differentiate through voluntary spectrum sharing;
• A fee structure that reflects
efficient and effective use of the spectrum as well as coverage
The MNOs warned the EU that Europe is "at a crossroads"
which could either see it become a leader in 5G technology, or
fall behind markets such as the US and Asia.
The EC has previously tried to coordinated spectrum
allocation across the 28 member states, but around half of the
member states are believed to oppose the
Commission’s plans to establish a 25-year
Ministers have also expressed caution about introducing peer
review proposals, calling for a lighter touch approach to
The operators argue that longer licences would allow them to
commit to more investment, but failure to introduce these
changes will hinder their ability to carry out large scale
deployments and compete with US rivals.
A cross-industry letter, sent last month, made similar
demands, accusing the EU of taking a "timid" approach to