CEOs of major operator groups express ‘deep concern’ about Electronic Communications Code.

Europe’s biggest telcos on Monday continued to pressure the European Union to implement investment-friendly spectrum policies.

Telecoms is on the agenda of an informal meeting of EU ministers taking place in Tallinn, Estonia today and tomorrow.

Never one to miss an opportunity for some lobbying, the GSMA issued an open letter signed by the CEOs of several big players, including Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefonica, and Vodafone, among others, expressing "deep concerns regarding current discussions on the spectrum elements of the proposed Electronic Communications Code (ECC)".

Unveiled by the European Commission in September 2016, the ECC proposed 25-year spectrum licences and strict rules to ensure the effective and efficient use of airwaves. It also proposed EU-wide coordination on assigning frequencies.

However, some member states are reluctant to relinquish control over spectrum allocation and licence duration, which can be a lucrative source of funds for governments. Some argue that 25-year licences could make it harder for frequency allocation to keep pace with advances in technology.

In Monday’s open letter, the signatories said that creating the right policy is critical to the development of the Digital Single Market (DSM).

"Failure to establish a well-functioning and investment-friendly spectrum framework risks stifling innovation, growth and development for decades to come," they warned. "This will not only impact the mobile industry, but also adjacent sectors that increasingly rely on connectivity and digitalisation."

Monday’s open letter is part of a concerted lobbying campaign by European telcos to push through sweeping reforms to spectrum regulation.

Telco lobby group ETNO sent a similar open letter in May, warning that amendments to the ECC could put future investment at risk.

That was followed up by a joint statement in June issued by several industry associations, including ETNO, the GSMA, DigitalEurope and Cable Europe, among others. They called on the EU to take a bold approach to overhauling its regulatory framework.

"Europe stands at a crossroads, with the opportunity to be amongst global leaders in the development of 5G technology, transforming itself, its economy and its society for future generations," said the GSMA’s open letter on Monday. "We hope we can work together to implement this vision for the future."


Eelco Blok, CEO, KPN
Sigve Brekke, CEO, Telenor
Flavio Cattaneo, CEO, Telecom Italia
Vittorio Colao, CEO, Vodafone
Johan Dennelind, CEO, Telia Company
Tim Höttges, CEO, Deutsche Telekom
Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete, CEO, Telefonica
Alejandro Plater, CEO, Telekom Austria
Stephane Richard, CEO, Orange
Mats Granryd, director general, GSMA