EU urges major spectrum reform, investment

EU regulator Neelie Kroes will explain the cost of dragging Europe’s mobile networks from today’s near collapse to sustainability.

Kroes is at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona today and will be outlining her cunning plan to make EU mobile networks more competitive than the US operators. At the moment the US networks are coining it in, while the EU is struggling.

TechEye has been given an outline of her plan which she says will boost mobile operators’ access to valuable spectrum.

It will involve 50 million euros of research funding to deliver a “5G” mobile technology by 2020 and put Europe back at the heart of the mobile industry it established, she said.

Kroes pointed out that it was 30 years of EU research funding that delivered GSM, and much of the 3G and 4G technology.

She said that the European Commission has identified a 27 billion investment gap between what the mobile networks have and the mobile networks the EU needs.

Spectrum is still a mess. The EU spectrum allocation maps look like a bowl of spaghetti, she said. Not that there is anything wrong with spaghetti, particularly real Italian EU-approved spaghetti.

Kroes promises a pragmatic, not dogmatic approach to addressing these challenges.

She said that the EU has always been critical for building the mobile sector, and that it will be key to the future with 5G research and harmonising spectrum policy.

“What is missing now is a real telecoms single market. Mobile needs a real single market. We are going to start using our EU Treaty powers to change the situation,” she said.

Kroes wants 1200Mhz of spectrum for wireless broadband, and it has already allocated 1000. But most EU countries have only made 650 or less available. That is a huge waste and it it’s inexcusable, she added.

She was also concerned that some local and regional authorities were 100 times stricter than the EU’s recommended safety standards for 4G. Kroes thinks that isn’t protecting people, it’s just killing the economy.

Kroes believes it is unacceptable that there are more 4G subscriptions in South Korea than the entire EU and 17 EU countries still lack 4G.

She said there needed to be a change of mindset, with Member States having to realise the potential benefits of thinking European when authorising spectrum

5G must be pioneered by European industry, based on European research and creating jobs in Europe – the EU will put its money where its mouth is, Kroes promised.