Thierry Breton kicks off the future telecoms regulation

Estimated read time 4 min read

Thierry Breton kicks off the future telecoms regulation

Thierry Breton tackles telecom infrastructures. 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 networks to complete the digital single market of 450 million citizens. In a post on his LinkedIn profile, he says he is working on a “law on digital networks” in order to regulate the telecom sector.

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

The publication of the results of the consultation launched by the European Union on the future of the telecommunications sector, according to him, supports his point. To complete the coverage in very high speed, but above all to provide the Old Continent with a “gigabit connectivity”, operators must have the free elbow room to invest. The European Commission has put the investment needs at around 174 billion euros by 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 against three national players in the United States – the European Commissioner is clearly kicking off a broad consolidation movement. A good omen for the rapprochement of Orange and MasMovil in Spain who is waiting for the green light from Brussels?

Harmonization of mobile frequencies

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

In addition, the future “Telecom Act” should relax the regulatory framework and reduce administrative formalities and costs borne by operators. Thierry Breton advocates 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. We must” redefining the DNA of our telecommunications regulation. »

Some participants in the consultation are going further in streamlining and simplifying EU-wide regulations, arguing for “a single 5G core network” resulting in savings of around 200 to 300 million euros over the next five years. The customers of its operators could also benefit from this change in regulatory framework. We remember that the roaming framework has exploded the uses.

A law before the summer of 2025?

Finally, the last part of Thierry Breton’s advocacy focuses on network security. “In today’s interconnected world, with the rise of geopolitical tensions, we must ensure full control of our decision-making processes in strategic sectors[andavoidanyharmfulexternalinterferenceinourconnectivityinfrastructures»[…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, important gaps in spectrum management or the protection of submarine cables. Recently, the European Commissioner said that 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 website, the timing of the future this “law on digital networks” is already set and would be modeled on that of the regulation for AI. After the publication of a white paper scheduled for the first quarter of 2024, the legislative project should last 12 to 14 months to be completed before the summer of 2025.

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