01 Mar 2017

DIGITALEUROPE Position Paper on the Electronic Communications Code

DIGITALEUROPE Position Paper on the Electronic Communications Code

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

DIGITALEUROPE welcomes the Commission’s proposals to review and update the European Union’s telecommunications regulatory framework. The proposed Electronic Communications Code (ECC), flanked by the 5G Action Plan and Gigabit Society Communication, aim to build a more competitive and investment-friendly telecoms landscape in Europe.

DIGITALEUROPE as the representative of the technology vendors in all layers of the internet value chain, believe that the core goals of the new telecoms framework should be fostering investments and infrastructure-based competition, notably through a coordinated EU vision on spectrum management and through a proportionate, innovation-friendly approach to electronic communication services regulation.

DIGITALEUROPE finds that effective infrastructure-based competition remains the most important driver of innovation and investment into Very High Capacity Networks (VHCNs). We support the proposals of the Commission to make access regulation more targeted and proportionate and, if implementation of access remedies is warranted, to focus first on the physical infrastructure, passive and then active network elements.

We also support the proposal to further encourage co-investments into VHCNs but believe it should be considered to allow more flexibility for the market to design the investments according the specifics of individual projects. Finally, DIGITALEUROPE supports the concept of broadband mapping and Digital Exclusion Areas where additional efforts will be needed to ensure every EU citizens will have access to VHCNs.

As far as the spectrum proposals are concerned, DIGITALEUROPE fully supports the Commission’s draft and agrees that coordination is needed to free up the bands for deployment of 5G devices and services. The markets for Internet of Things, Machine-to-Machine technologies, Connected Cars, etc., all depends on certainty for investment and timely availability of spectrum bands.

The important elements of a secure and predictable spectrum landscape consist of, as proposed in the ECC, longer license durations combined a flexible secondary market in trading and leasing of licenses.

The most crucial element though is the timely and EU-wide availability of spectrum, to foster those economies of scale which are essential for the development and deployment of wireless devices in the Digital Single Market. To this end, a more balanced approach to general authorisations versus individual rights should be considered (as licensed spectrum availability is the guarantee for networks with required quality of service).

Finally, in respect of services regulation, DIGITALEUROPE appreciates the layered approach taken by the Commission. We stress nonetheless that the definitions need to be more carefully crafted to be better aligned with technology to ensure a truly targeted approach and to ensure a practicable implementation that works to the benefit of consumers and businesses. This notably concerns the definition of number-based and the exception for ‘merely minor and ancillary’ features where the current wording could capture a significantly wider group of services than intended.

More targeted definitions and provisions, supported by established competition law, would also better support innovation for both big and small players in this dynamic and borderless digital market. Overall, a harmonised EU approach, true to the principles of the Digital Single Market and aligned with existing horizontal legislation such as the NIS Directive, would be the most proportionate way of delivering on a flourishing telecoms market.

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