Europe cannot afford to postpone critical milestones for the development of the Radio Spectrum Policy Programme, Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda e-Communications, has told a conference on Perspectives for the development of the electronics communications market in the EU in Warsaw.
“Next generation fixed solutions are not the whole story: we also need wireless infrastructure. For the 90% of European households with access to a mobile; for the third of Europeans who can use their mobile to access the Internet; and as a competitive complement to fibre broadband access, particularly for those who live in more isolated areas.”
Two consultations have been launched by Kroes on non-discrimination and on access prices, but there is industry concern over the use of public funds aimed at gapfill and boosting investment.
“Where this new taxpayer’s money is used to subsidise the development of rural areas, we are very supportive, provided that cable gets its fair share,” said Manuel Kohnstamm, president, Cable Europe. “We too, keep building NGN networks in greenfield areas. But where these public funds end up invested in areas where nascent players – new entrants – are already setting up shop or have planned new investments, the use of such funds could be hugely distorting.”
The Commission is proposing to set aside €9.2 billion in funds in what has been described as the “Connecting Europe facility”.
Kroes urged those involved to come to a political agreement in the next few days.