Europe could intervene in the telecoms market by forcing governments to sign up to one set of rules for the industry, its digital commissioner has said.
Neelie Kroes' comments will buoy mobile operators, who complained on Monday about how over-zealous regulation was harming the industry. However, the move could dilute the power of UK telecoms regulator Ofcom and its European counterparts.
In a speech to Mobile World Congress yesterday, Kroes said there was too much disparity between the European markets. She said: 'What's easy in one part of Europe takes two years in another.' She added: 'Europe used to lead the world in wireless: we invented the GSM standard, we once dominated devices. Yet now we are falling behind. Overtaken to the east and west. We urgently need to catch up. To reclaim a strong wireless industry. To cement a strong economy. And to give people the technological tools to access and create opportunity.'
While Kroes did not go as far as calling for a single pan-European regulator, Kroes told reporters it would be a 'very interesting and efficient way' to bring about a single market. She said: 'Mobile needs a real single market. We are going to start using our EU treaty powers to change the situation.'
She warned that governments should not lobby to stick to the status quo. Spectrum auctions have raised billions for the public purse and it is unlikely they would want these sell-offs being taken out of their hands. Kroes said staying on the current path 'would damage our competitivess and harm our industry, and cut Europeans off from a world of online opportunity.'
Kroes also announced the European Union was investing €50million into researching 5G technology, with a bid to deliver the service by 2020. She said: 'I want 5G to be pioneered by European industry, based on European research and created jobs in Europe - and we will put our money where our mouth is.'
Author: Graeme Neill