What are the key challenges Europe is facing in realizing its Very High Capacity Connectivity? In order to address this question, EIF organised a lunch debate chaired by Pilar del Castillo MEP, bringing together MEPs, members and friends to exchange views with the following distinguished speakers:
- Anthony Whelan, Director for Electronic Communications Networks and Services, DG CONNECT, European Commission
- Kyle Whitehill, CEO of Avanti Communications and Vice-Chair of ESOA
- Lise Fuhr, Director General, ETNO
- Darko Ratkaj, Senior Project Manager, EBU
- Christof Sommerberg, Head of Regulation and Public Affairs, BREKO’s member company Deutsche Glasfaser
Pilar del Castillo MEP started her speech by acknowledging the importance of very high capacity networks: “it is a precondition for Europe to become part of the Gigabit Society, Smart Cities, Industry 4.0 etc. There is a lot of potential for growth and innovation that these networks bring along.” MEP del Castillo concluded that in order to successfully adopt quantum technologies, IoT and AI, Europe will need the best connectivity possible.
Anthony Whelan highlighted the importance of investment: “We need to make it easier for people to invest in these networks. We’re looking at ways to make deployment easier and less costly.” Moreover, the good functioning of the Digital Single Market will create a virtuous circle: good access to data, computing capacity and cloud will create greater demand.
Kyle Whitehill identified “three C’s” that Europe needs address: competition, which brings investment and higher standards; collaboration as an industry, as it is very hard for one operator to deploy very high capacity networks on its own and consistency in thinking, in policy and in allocating spectrum. In his view, this would allow operators to offer customers the best services possible.
In Lise Fuhr’s opinion, very high capacity networks need to be ubiquitous, secure and need to help sustainability in Europe. “We cannot just look at the supply side we need to create a demand from traditional industries which could benefit from becoming more digitized.” Ms. Fuhr added that there is a strong correlation between sustainability targets and connectivity: “If you get 5% more connectivity, this translates into 1.6x less emissions on CO2, approximately 450 coal plants.”
The representative of the European Broadcasting Union, Darko Ratkaj, stressed the importance of high capacity connectivity in order for media to retain its leadership role. Moreover, “we would like to see a better collaboration between media and the telecom industry in achieving the joint objectives.” Mr. Ratkaj concluded.
Christof Sommerberg acknowledged the current constraints that alternative fiber deployment providers are facing: “We face practical constraints, concerning permits, construction capacity and speed. We need all the necessary ingredients to speed this up. Fortunately, we see a lot of infrastructure investment going toward Europe.”