Europe’s global leadership in telecoms was for long undisputed. The GSM standard and deregulation in some European markets and many other factors paved the way for a vibrant European telecom industry where new innovations and technologies created growth and prosperity in Europe. Unfortunately, this development has lost momentum in recent years and Europe is now being out-competed by global actors such as China and India. Investments are driven to bigger markets outside Europe where the costs of developing the next generation technology quickly can be recuperated. The thought of China Mobiles costumer’s base outnumbering Europe’s total population with 200 million people is a perfect illustration of this.
Not only has the balance of power changed. At the same time mobile internet solutions and wireless technologies are rapidly transforming our societies and economies. The demand for mobile data traffic has recently exploded, growing by over 100 percent every year, and new services within telecommunications, healthcare, energy and logistics sectors are improving the lives of billions of people. We can only try to imagine the societal and economic opportunities that future technologies such as cloud computing and the Internet of Things will bring in the wireless revolution.
My ambition for the multi annual spectrum program has been to make Europe home of this wireless revolution. I want Europe to lead the process of change, creating the best opportunities for a competitive European knowledge economy characterized by vitality, change and innovation.
I want Europe to be number one. Not number two and not number three, or number four
I am therefore particularly glad that we have managed to raise the ambitions in the spectrum program, giving Europe the necessary tools to regain our global leadership.
- Thanks to this agreement, Member States will have to make the 800 MHz frequency band available for the use of wireless broadband services by 1 January 2013. Despite opposition from Member States we successfully managed to defend this deadline in order to ensure that all EU Member States now must make this band available for wireless broadband. We thereby take an important step in creating a pan European telecommunications market where new services can create opportunities and growth for 500 million EU consumers.
- The agreement sets world leading targets in order to meet the exponential growth in the demand of mobile date. We allocate at least 1.200 MHz for wireless services by 2015, enabling the EU to be the world leader of the future development regarding Internet and broadband.
- The agreement also stipulates that the Commission should assess, no later than 1 January 2015, if there is a need to harmonize additional spectrum bands. This will enable us to further meet and manage the exponential growth in wireless data traffic.
- Moreover, the European Parliament has succeed in imposing an inventory with a very large scope of the existing use of spectrum from 400 MHz to 6 GHz. This inventory creates a flexible and coordinated European spectrum policy where inefficient use of spectrum is addressed and where the exponential growth of wireless data traffic can be met by future re-allocations.
- Finally, we take a first step in opening up for increased WiFI usage in Europe to the benefit of network hotspots in schools, hospitals, airports etc.
This is just a couple of examples of what the first radio spectrum program entails. It is now up to the Commission and Member States to deliver on this agreement, particularly in relation to the 800 MHz band and the inventory. All data on the existing use of the spectrum must commonly shared if we are to decide on how to best manage future re-allocations of spectrum in order to meet the growth in mobile data traffic.
And it is our common responsibility to continue to develop policies where national sovereignty and outdates business models does not hinder the development of a digital single internal market where products and services can circulate freely on a 500 million consumer market, creating economic growth for all Europeans. The differences of 27 different national markets must not stand in the way of European leadership.
I would like to extent my warmest thanks to my colleagues Madame Trautmann, Mr Rhode, Mr Chichester and Mr Lambert, for your helpful collaboration throughout this process. I also would like to thank Commissioner Kroes and staff, as well as the Polish Presidency for their contributions in securing an agreement on this first multi annual radiospectrum program.
All in all Mr President, the spectrum programme will lay the foundations for a development whereby the Union can take the global lead in issues relating to broadband speeds, mobility, coverage and capacity. We now create a framework where new services and innovations can create prosperity and economic growth in Europe.
This is good news for the European economy and I am glad for the Parliament’s support and that our ambitious approach has been endorsed by the Member States.