ThnikDigital Blog

MEP Boni: “Today, we have to respond to the new challenges. We need to re-balance the models of infrastructure-based and service-based competition” #ThinkDigital

Within the terms of the digital revolution and in light of the need to build a new digital competitive advantage for the European Economy and Development in the interest of all – the key is to ensure access of all users to high-qualified connectivity.

By high-qualified, I mean future 5G and the road map to 5G, as well as the possibility of using the different components of networks at national levels: fibre, wireless, the old copper, satellite, cable –  if  it is useful and possible.

By high-qualified, I mean future-proof, adjusted to the speed and parameters required for telemedicine and eHealth, the autonomous cars industry development, IoT growth and common utilisation, etc. The regulatory and non-regulatory framework should be aimed at future networks, not today’s needs. Non-regulatory solutions are very important in some areas as these are much more flexible and adjustable to the changing technologies.

But what is most important, is to start with very much needed investment.

How can we maintain respect for competition and boost investment?

Competition is only a tool for growth, for healthy markets and finally, as a result – for investment. Investment is a tool that is needed to really make connectivity workable in the new digital terms. But this does not mean that competition should be the objective per se just as it does not mean that investment should be the objective per se. Both tools are needed for the better usage of networks by users, the users of the future.

Does it change the paradigm?

Now, we need to establish the background for infrastructure-based competition – in the context of new models of services such as software-defined networks. In the past we focused more and more on service-based competition, indicating the necessity of accessibility at low prices and – at the European level – the so-called end of roaming. Keeping prices low was very important at that time.

For too long, regulators have focused on strictly controlling the price of access to regulated networks, denying network owners any competitive edge on their investment and forgetting the potential risk of under-investment in new networks.

Today, we have to respond to the new challenges. We need to re-balance the models of infrastructure-based and service-based competition.

A new framework for the future connectivity of European users requires the following:

  • An understanding of the key objective and significance of investment in networks – for the users of the future
  • Certainty is an important factor for all stakeholders, but most of all for long-term business investment plans
  • The network infrastructure must be built as an open system intended to support the greatest possible diversity in: Access, Content, Usage, Architecture. Networks must be built as a series of interoperable components with well-defined public interfaces, which permit maximum third party competition
  • Competition rules must guarantee competitiveness in an open context: to strengthen market-drivers
  • Clear, but newly-defined ex-ante rules for all players. This means that we need criteria from the first stages of the process
  • Clear, well-prepared ex-post rules to check on the results of the aforementioned market-drivers
  • A new order for the European network market that is more adjusted to future needs, user expectations and the necessity for European competitiveness as a whole continent rather than competitiveness in each 28 national market
  • A realistic view of the possibility for implementation at the commercial level of the 5G objectives
  • A new definition of regulatory obligations and goals, much more adjusted to the new, more harmonised framework.

By MEP Michal Boni for ETNO #ThinkDigital, 31 May 2016