European governments must resist the temptation to artificially inflate spectrum pricing, in order to speed up the rollout of 5G mobile networks

European telecoms regulators must take a more measured approach to market consolidation to help telcos bare the cost of 5G rollout, according to Telefonica’s chief executive officer.  

During his opening address at MWC 2019 in Barcelona this morning, Jose Maria Alvarez Pallete, questioned whether the European Commission’s preference for 4 players in each of the markets it regulates, was in the industry’s best interest, particularly as it looks to pump billions of euros into its 5G network rollout.   

“Does competition theory say that Europe needs one mobile operator for every 1 million citizens in Europe,” he asked.

Pallette also questioned the motivations of some European governments, who he accused of naïvely trying to cash in on the short-term revenues garnered from 5G spectrum auctions.   

“Governments are using 5G auctions as short-term cash generators rather than fostering the digital transformation that societies and economies require,” he said. 

“Spectrum needs to be awarded for longer durations, and we hope that the new commission and parliament in the European Union make the creation of a level playing field their number one priority,” he added. 

Telefonica has said that it will look to rollout 5G in Spain and other European markets in 2020. It will launch 5G services in the UK, via its UK subsidiary O2, in the second half of 2019. 

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