The European Union's digital chief Neelie Kroes presented her "Connected Continent" plan to the European Parliament this week, and claimed that the boost from a competitive single market in telecoms could be worth €110 billion a year.
"Quality communications for business could be worth €800 billion over 15 years. Broadband could create 2 million jobs. This is investing in tomorrow's growth," Kroes added during her speech.
Kroes presented further details of the plan that she hopes will create a single market for telecoms in Europe, with key targets including the abolition of roaming charges, the introduction of net neutrality across the region and a less fragmented approach to spectrum allocations. The Connected Continent plan will go before the other members of the EU's administrative branch in early September.
Kroes has repeatedly called for national borders to be knocked down in order to improve services and reduce costs for consumers, and warned that the EU is falling behind other regions of the world.
"The rest of the world is racing ahead," Kroes said. "America, Japan, Korea have 88 per cent of the world's 4G subscriptions; the EU has just 6. Meanwhile, only 2 per cent of European homes have superfast broadband."
Nevertheless, while Kroes described her ambition as "large scale", she conceded that a certain amount of pragmatism is required.
"Today our networks and regulations are largely national. A pragmatic approach is not about digging up those networks, tearing up those rulebooks, and starting again from scratch," she said. "It's about taking what we have and adapting it; unblocking the bottlenecks, bringing down the barriers. Giving operators, businesses and citizens the single-market boost: better services, faster networks, fairer prices."
Operators meanwhile have been critical of plans to cut roaming charges and already face declining revenue, which they say will impact their ability to invest in new ultra high-speed broadband networks.
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