February 17th 2016 from 11:45, LUXEXPO, Luxembourg City
Ladies and Gentlemen,
For me the goal is quite simple. Europe needs to be number one.
If you want to be number one you need to take certain actions in order to get there. As politicians we cannot do very much about the entrepreneurial steps that need to be taken. On the other hand, we know that what Europe is missing is not entrepreneurs or start-ups, we miss the climate that means that entrepreneurs can and will proceed, that the start-ups will become grown-ups and later on the global champions, and then later on the parents of new start-ups aiming to be grown-ups.
It normally takes three decades for a technology to transform a society, or for a society to embrace a new technology. That was true for the steam engine, for cars, for telephones and for computers as well as for broadband.
First you get the new technology. It is normally an adventure. Then you curiously start to use it. Then the technology as such starts to develop, as a technology and as a sector of your society. Then it is creating its own fascinating part of the economy and then suddenly it is the economy.
You could see that for trains. First the steam engine. It was more of an interest for technicians and inventors. But what use do you have of a steam engine just standing there?
So you need someone to put it on a wagon, making it into a locomotive. But first you had to develop and adapt it to that. But what use do you have of a locomotive just standing there?
You need to have a rail. And then you adopt the idea of a locomotive to be put on a rail, making what you could call a railway. But what use do you have of a locomotive standing on a rail?
You need stations where the locomotive and the train can stop. But then you need an infrastructure making the station worthwhile to stop at. Etcetera. All of that takes three decades, more or less, provided the technology is economically and technologically sustainable.
We saw the same thing with electricity. And with the computers, lap tops and mobile phones, the Internet. First we saw the new thing as an exotic message from the future, then as a special thing in our society and then as a fundamental base for the whole of our economy.
That’s were we are now. The development of ICT and broadband services has and have the same pattern. First the new thing. Men in white coats in mysterious buildings. Then the use of it in a special room in the office. Then the computer department.
And at this stage of the development the devices were of the design from the old society. Laptops were inspired by the design of typewriters, we still have the QWERTY board by the way, and mobile phones were looking like old times phones, more or less.
But now it is changing. In the mobile telephony we see the change very clearly. 3G was the modernisation and gave way for European leadership in telecom. 4G was digitalisation and opened up for the dominance of American leadership and global champions in services.
And now we are coming to the next step which will mean a normalisation, or industrialisation, and will require more and better fixed lines and more and better mobile broadband, because more services will be stationary and more services will be or require mobility. We will need the stability of fibre and the mobility of mobile broadband and Wi-Fi, and all of them will be dependent on highly qualified fibre nets.
Three things will be necessary.
Goals and targets of the future, not of the past. Stop talking about Mbs, let’s focus the discussions about connectivity, coverage, speed and capacity on Gbs.
We will need more competition in order to get more innovations and more investments at the same time. So we need to sort out how we are supposed to have the completion organized in order to get the real competition, real opportunities for newcomers and real opportunities for investors to get their money back.
Therefore we need to think about how to define the difference between the net, the operator and the services. The nets can be shared or open for competition between operators, giving way for traffic that can give return on investments; the operators need to compete with their services and the internet services must be able to develop by new entrants.
We need to take care of the infrastructure of ducts we have, make it used for best possible competition and investments without letting it be a limit for new actors.
And we need to understand that when the Internet economy or the digital technologies are becoming the base of our societies, not new things, not new sectors but a new base for our society, it will be crucial to have the lead in this development because otherwise we will loose the opportunities to lead economically and politically. In a global digital economy you cannot be number two because the number one is always present everywhere.
The fundament of Moore´s Law – that capacity will double and prices be halved every second year will not only be applicable to chips and the technological development but to the development of new services and higher productivity. We need to invest, cover, compete, connect and act!