The European economy could get a boost of up to £674bn by 2015 if the EU helps mobile phone operators expand their technology, the GSMA said last week.
The mobile industry body has launched a European Mobile Manifesto, calling on the EU to support the mobile industry on a number of initiatives.
The report is to be included in the i2015 policy that will shape European technology such as eLearning and eHealth.
Among its proposals, the body wants the European Commission to release more spectrum to allow operators to offer a greater range of services.
The mobile industry’s thinking is based on the theory that ‘embedded mobile [where a Sim card is built into a device] is going to be huge’, GSMA chief government and regulatory affairs officer Tom Phillips tells Mobile.
He adds that mobile, far from being a saturated market, is ‘just at the beginning of a new wave of mobile activity – machine to machine [m2m], the internet of things’.
Phillips says: ‘The market is very competitive, regulation has driven down price – voice is very much a declining market. Mobile broadband is still competitive but has withered. Long term, it will be enabled and m2m that will grow.’
Currently, the industry uses embedded Sims in broadband enabled laptops in the UK, but it could soon be involved in smart meters, cars and e-calling – from 2012 all cars manufactured in the EU will need an embedded Sim to route data such as emergency services.
Later this month, all telecoms ministers across Europe are due to come together to discuss the technologies. Phillips says: ‘We hope the manifesto will influence their thinking.’
The i2015 policy will be decided on in May 2010, to be implemented in May 2015. From now until then, the GSMA’s manifesto intends to inform Europe on the part mobile can play. Phillips says: ‘The most interesting period will be now until February – then it will be plain sailing.’
The GSMA wants the European Commission to set targets for getting Government services online across member states and to ensure that all eGovernment services are mobile enabled. It also wants to get health and education services online, in addition to making more spectrum available.
Phillips says: ‘In terms of the amount of spectrum, details have been left blank at the moment.’
He adds that more spectrum in the UK could come from the Government, which uses it far more ‘inefficiently’ than the mobile industry.
He says: ‘Mobile takes a tiny amount of spectrum but the level of GDP generated is huge. The Government makes inefficient use of its spectrum and some may be freed to operators.
‘The Government uses the spectrum for military and emergency services communication. It is using it inefficiently, but it is not auctioned. If you [operators] have paid billions for your spectrum and shareholders want it to make money, then you’re forced to be more efficient.’
Although there is no ‘formal link’, the GSMA’s ideas tap into Lord Stephen Carter’s Digital Britain report, which outlined in June the aim to roll out broadband to the entire UK population at a minimum speed of 2Mbps.
Phillips adds: ‘There is no formal link but our manifesto was very much influenced by Digital Britain. We took a lot of lessons from Digital Britain, including speaking to its author over issues such as the role of spectrum and the role of the Government in aggregating demand.’
Other areas the mobile industry can assist with, according to the manifesto, include eCommerce and eGovernment.
Phillips says: ‘You could expect to see versions of this tailored to different markets in Europe, and UK operators can pick up on this, on spectrum issues for example, and have a fresh look at them.
‘The UK will be one of the leaders with embedded technology and eHealth. The broadband part has been well covered in Digital Britain.’
Funding will come from the industry – it is a private investment, says Phillips, who adds: ‘We are looking for some co-operation and support from the Government for eServices such as health, security and consumer confidence issues. Vendors and operators will both invest.’
Four points of the manifesto
• Increase internet connectivity and drive productivity through widespread
mobile broadband access ‘on the move and at home, and in cities and rural areas’.
• Engage consumers and improve efficiency by enabling the ‘mobilisation’ of commercial and public services, particularly eCommerce, eLearning, eHealth and eGovernment.
• Build a greener mobile planet by reducing Europe’s carbon footprint through m2m technologies.
• Empower users and maintain consumer trust by providing mobile privacy tools.
What the industry wants
• More spectrum – a harmonised roadmap for release
• Roll out support – to remove barriers against eco-efficient coverage expansion
• Demand stimulation – to be pro-mobile in public services, utilities and infrastructure
• Consumer education – to promote user responsibility for online data and security
• Network management – continued flexibility to preserve choice and quality of service