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Europe must bring the single market to the digital world

Winston Churchill said, “If
you do not take change by the hand, it will grab you by the throat.” Digital
change is ready to take the European telecoms sector by the throat, and that
should be a worry for the whole economy. Many companies are heavily indebted or
prime takeover targets, investment levels are low and the sector is divided
into many competing interest groups despite obvious common ground.
can assure you that, in the digital world, it does not take long for a
corporate rabbit stuck in the headlights to become corporate roadkill. Digital
corpses can already be found on both sides of the Atlantic, from BlackBerry to
Nokia’s handset empire. If European telecoms companies want to avoid becoming
corporate roadkill, they need to embrace change.
Internet is now part of all economic sectors and social milieu. Since 2008,
Europe’s app industry alone has generated 800,000 new jobs. These
are neither Mark Zuckerbergs nor interns. They include 300,000 software
developer roles – the sort of solid middle class jobs Europe is crying out for,
the sort of small businesses that are the lifeblood of innovation. These jobs
depend on high-speed connectivity.
Europe’s regulations and companies aren’t providing for enough of that
connectivity. That’s why we need to get rid of barriers to investment and wake
up and face the future.
we don’t change collectively, Europe’s competitiveness will slip just as the
opportunities of the big data revolution arrive on our doorstep – hurting not
only ourselves, but putting a brake on global growth.
that means giving up the cash-cows of the past – like
mobile roaming income – and focusing on the data-driven business models of the
future. It means admitting that fighting to protect voice and SMS income makes
no more sense for telecoms than protecting income from faxes.
exchange for these cash-cows, the income opportunities of cloud computing,
machine-to-machine networks and 3D printing await.
significant economic sector today – whether logistics or cars, healthcare or
manufacturing – is building its future business models on the availability of
high-quality digital infrastructure. They are all part of the digital economy
alongside the Skypes and the Spotifys we associate with technology success.
is why telecoms either enables every sector it touches, or becomes the
economy’s Achilles’ heel. The choice is ours.
let’s make sure we bring the single market – the cornerstone of European
integration and competitiveness – to the digital world.
has a strong high-tech research programme in
place – progressing game-changing technologies likegraphene and 5G
mobile. More and more companies are joining efforts to upgrade the digital
skills of the population. But these efforts can only truly succeed if
complemented by a telecoms single market in Europe.
businesses and consumers use and sell telecoms services freely, in one market,
not 28 national markets. Let us prove that Europe can make globalization, digitization and
its political institutions work
support the basic interests of its population.

sounds easy, but it is not. George Orwell reminds us, “To see what’s in front
of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.”
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