Europe opens public consultation on future network needs

The European commission is asking for views from stakeholders and the European public in general to get a sense of what the fixed and mobile networks of the future need to provide.

The main way it’s encouraging feedback is through an online questionnaire, which quizzes respondents on their current internet needs and how they think they will evolve over time. The name of the project is ‘Public Consultation on the Needs for Internet Speed and Quality Beyond 2020’.

In its background document the EC says “The purpose is to assess and understand those needs better with a view to developing public policy to accompany investors in the deployment of future-proof connectivity networks and to ensure that all users, e.g. households, businesses, public institutions, can take advantage of the digital economy and society.”

While the EC is clearly a fan of long sentences, this comes down to it looking for direction when it comes to investment – specifically which private projects to support. Like any political organization it’s looking for a public mandate so that it can claim to be representing the will of the people.

The GSMA, which represents global mobile operators, has applauded the move. “The GSMA believes that telecommunications reform is the linchpin for Europe’s industrial strategy in the digital sector and could lead to unparalleled prospects for economic growth and social progress,” said Afke Schaart, VP of Europe at the GSMA.

“Customers expect to be able to run their small business remotely and they will increasingly expect everyday objects, such as cars or household appliances, to be connected to the internet. At the moment, this is not always possible. The European market needs a new regulatory framework that enhances the region’s ability to be a hub for investment and innovation, as well as protecting European citizens as consumers of communications services.”

The survey is live until 7 December 2015, and presumably a lot of lobbying from various interested parties will also take place in parallel. With the 5G standard still in its infancy it seems a little premature to start looking beyond 2020, but then again you’ve got to start at some time. Presumably the survey will conclude people would like fast, ubiquitous connectivity.

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