Thierry Breton kicks off the future telecoms regulation

Thierry Breton tackles telecoms infrastructure. After defining rules for digital platforms (DSA, DMA, AI Act) and regulating the data economy (Data Act), the European Commissioner for the Internal Market descends into the lower layers of the networks to complete the single digital market of 450 million citizens. In a post on his LinkedIn profile, he says he is working on a “digital networks law” in order to regulate the telecoms sector.

For Thierry Breton, “State-of-the-art telecommunications infrastructure is a fundamental pillar of growth, innovation and job creation. » A prerequisite for making Europe a leader in the fields of cloud, artificial intelligence, quantum or the metaverse. “ Telecom operators need scale and agility to adapt to this technological revolution, but market fragmentation is holding them back. »

The publication of the results of the consultation launched by the European Union on the future of the telecoms sector, according to him, supports his statement. To complete very high speed coverage, but above all to provide the Old Continent with “gigabit connectivity”, operators must have free rein to invest. The European Commission has estimated investment needs at around 174 billion euros between now and 2030.

As he had stated in the past, Thierry Breton says he is in favor of the emergence of pan-European infrastructure operators by facilitating cross-border acquisition operations. While the European market is particularly fragmented – 150 operators in the 27 member states compared to three national players in the United States – the European commissioner is clearly kicking off a vast consolidation movement. A good omen for the merger of Orange and MasMovil in Spain which is awaiting the green light from Brussels?

Harmonization of mobile frequencies

It is also about attracting private capital by eliminating the obstacles that hold back investors. For the political leader, this issue is not limited to the possible financial contribution of GAFAM to the construction of future information highways. If he said he was a supporter of this “fair share”, his comments on LinkedIn are less explicit. “ Some have tried to reduce the investment question to a battle between Big Telco and Big Tech, […], the stakes are much higher. »

Furthermore, the future “Telecom Act” must relax the regulatory framework and reduce administrative formalities and costs borne by operators. Thierry Breton calls for harmonization in the allocation of radio frequencies. Until now, operators have had to compete for the allocation of frequencies, country by country, via auction systems. “ A cash cow for some governments “, he laments. It’s necessary “ redefine the DNA of our telecommunications regulation. »

Some consultation participants go further in streamlining and simplifying regulation at EU level, calling for “a single 5G core network” leading to savings of around €200 million to €300 million over the next five years. The customers of its operators could also benefit from this change in the regulatory framework. We remember that the regulation of roaming caused usage to explode.

A law before summer 2025?

Finally, the last part of Thierry Breton’s advocacy concerns network security. “ In today’s interconnected world, with rising geopolitical tensions, we must ensure full control of our decision-making processes in strategic sectors[…andavoidharmfulexternalinterferenceinourconnectivityinfrastructure»[…etévitertouteinterférenceextérieurepréjudiciabledansnosinfrastructuresdeconnectivité»

If “the EU has come a long way in securing 5G networks, which are critical infrastructures in their own right » there are, according to him, significant gaps in spectrum management or the protection of submarine cables. Recently, the European Commissioner said he wanted to accelerate the replacement of equipment manufacturers presenting risks to the security of 5G networks, in this case the Chinese suppliers Huawei and ZTE.

According to the Context site, the timetable for the future of this “digital networks law” is already set and would be modeled on that of the regulation for AI. After the publication of a white paper planned for the first quarter of 2024, the legislative project should extend over 12 to 14 months to be completed before summer 2025.

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