The connectivity needs of Europeans are growing. At the same time the digital economy offers new opportunities to boost Europe’s economy. For this reason the telecoms rules are being reviewed. Mart VÕRKLAEV‘s policy recommendations on for instance 5G networks or the WIFI4EU action plan will benefit the end user: the European citizens.

For the first time, basic access to broadband is considered a universal service; European citizens have the right to access internet at affordable prices to enable full participation in the digital economy and society. Developments such as the internet of things, virtual reality, cloud computing and massive data will however require technological innovation in the form of high capacity networks as close as possible to the end user to achieve growth and jobs.

“5G will be the most critical building block of the digital society in the next decade”

In order to boost the digital economy, our rapporteur Mart VÕRKLAEV made some clear policy recommendations from the bottom up:

– All urban and rural households in the EU should have access to an internet connection with a download speed of at least 100 Mbit/s, which can upgraded to a speed of 1 Gbit/s”

– All urban areas and the most important land    transport routes should have full 5G coverage: a 5G connection should be available as a commercial service in at least one major city in each Member State by 2020 since 5G will be the most critical building block of the digital society in the next decade

– It doesn’t require new or extra money: some EUR 22 billion of EU public funds are already available over the 2014–2020 programming period for either upgrading existing broadband infrastructure or deploying new ones. Moreover, EU funds are crucial not only for their direct contribution to the financing of broadband infrastructure, but also for the leverage effect they are expected to play in attracting investments from other sources, including private ones.

Supporting the WIFI4EU action plan

Another welcome initiative according to VÕRKLAEV is the WIFI4EU action plan, which aims at giving all interested local authorities – including smaller towns and rural areas – the possibility of providing local people with a high-quality Wi-Fi connection free of charge in and around public buildings, as well as in parks, in public spaces,… through EU financial assistance.

The connections would be limited to new complimentary WiFi access points so that publicly funded initiatives do not compete with existing private schemes.

These access points should, among other things, also be safe, user-friendly, subject to continuous quality control and come without requests for user dataMart VÕRKLAEV