GSMA and ETNO warn EU over delaying reform ahead of Telecoms Council meetup

04 December 2017 | James Pearce

The European Telecommunication Network Operators' Association (ETNO) and the GSMA have both urged the EU Telecoms Council to take strong action over reform plans ahead of the Council’s next meeting today (4 December).

The GSMA welcomed the Estonian presidency’s decision to place plans for 5G high on the Telecoms Council’s agenda, with the mobile industry body previously warning Europe could fall behind in 5G deployments should it fail to address reform of key legislation.

On this theme, the GSMA continued to warn that "significant action" is needed in the reform of the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC), currently the topic of negotiation, in order to support 5G investment.

The GSMA wants European bureaucrats to provide greater certainty around spectrum licences that will play a key role in the future of 5G.

"Europe has an opportunity to reestablish itself as a global technology leader as we move toward the 5G era, but this can only happen if policymakers move quickly and boldly to make the necessary regulatory reforms to boost the region’s competitiveness on the global stage and bring innovative services to Europe’s citizens," said Afke Schaart, vice president Europe, GSMA. 

"A forward-looking regulatory environment designed to encourage long-term investment and innovation in Europe’s digital infrastructure is essential to maintaining a vibrant European mobile ecosystem and delivering the European Commission’s vision for a 'Gigabit Society’."

ETNO also got in on the lobbying act, releasing a statement that called for "an ambitious political drive" to achieve the European Commission’s call for a Gigabit Society.

ETNO challenged telecoms ministers to remained focussed on investment in fibre and 5G by making sure any changes do not lead to "increased regulatory pressure" which would "harm 5G, fibre deployment, and consumer choice."

ETNO warned that pro-investment and co-investment measures in the original Commission proposal are being "aggressively watered down".

"They were designed to overcome the wait-and-see approach, while maintaining regulation only where necessary. Today, alternative operators invest at a slower pace as they can obtain regulated offers for access. At the same time, network owners do not invest as much as they could because returns are artificially suppressed by wholesale regulation. Fostering investment and competition also requires that provisions for investment incentives apply to all operators, irrespective of whether their business model is wholesale-only or vertically integrated."

ETNO also warned that current proposals for spectrum licenses would not deliver on 5G deployments, whilst also highlighting the introduction of "Joint Dominance" rules, which would reverse the cardinal principle that more competition must lead to less regulation. This has already sent chilling signals to markets and it will create unprecedented uncertainty."

Another key topic said to be discussed is the future of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC), with ministers reportedly expected to reject a plan to give it’s a new mandate that would increase its powers.

The EC had proposed merging BEREC, which is a forum of national telecoms regulators, with a small agency called the Berec Office. This would make BEREC a fully-fledged EU agency.

Reports form the continent claim the Council is likely to reject this proposals, saying Berec should not be able to adopt binding decisions, as proposed by the commission. MEPs have also opposed the proposal.

Topics: GSMA, ETNO, EU, EC, Telecoms Council, 5G