Telco lobby group calls on regulators to be open minded about access technologies.

The next 10-20 months is a critical period that will reshape European telecoms regulation for the next decade, said ETNO director general Lise Fuhr on Wednesday.

Speaking on day two Total Telecom’s Gigabit Access event in Brussels, she said Europe needs to be very aware about how it updates its telco rules because it sends a critically important message to the investment community.

"The big, underlying issue is, how do we ensure it results in concrete benefits to end users?" she said.

In September, the European Commission presented its Electronic Communications Code (ECC), which among other things calls for regulatory intervention only in areas where competition and choice are lacking. It also calls for stringent rules governing effective and efficient use of spectrum.

The Commission hopes that the ECC will help Europe meet its target of providing 1-Gbps broadband to schools, hospitals and large businesses, and a minimum of 100-Mbps for all households – which need to be upgradeable to 1 Gbps – by 2025.

In addition, in May 2018, the EU’s privacy law – the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – comes into effect.

Fuhr said on Wednesday that the ECC must be inclusive of all technologies and investment models, and not focus exclusively on fibre.

ETNO’s telco members should "choose the technology that is best for them," she said.

Competition to invest in networks "should be at the core" of the ECC, she added.

Perhaps most importantly, Fuhr said the ECC should allow telcos to innovate.

"Without new and innovative services on top of them, they (networks) are going to be useless," she warned, noting that as it stands today, only 35% of homes passed by a 30-Mbps+ broadband network have an active connection.

Innovation will boost uptake and drive further investment in networks, she said.

Europe’s operators must be able "to gather the necessary resources to bring the Gigabit society to all Europeans in a short time frame," Fuhr said.