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EU Telecoms Policy

Latest news about the European Union's policy on telecommunications.

Digital Single Market Strategy
The European Commission's College of Commissioners on 25 March had a first discussion on the Digital Single Market Strategy due in May. It set out the main areas the Commission will focus its work on with the aim of triggering real changes for consumers and businesses alike.

Telecoms: Recommendation on relevant markets
The European Commission – in agreement with Member States - decided on 9 October that two telecom markets should no longer be subject to regulation in Europe, and that two more should be redefined to reflect market and technology developments. The rules take effect immediately.

Commission report on radio spectrum and UHF band
Europe's broadcasting and wireless broadband sectors are seen as essential to Europe's digital future and economic prosperity, and they are both hungry users of radio frequencies. On 1 September, former Commissioner Pascal Lamy presented the European Commission with a report on how to use the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) spectrum (the 700 Megahertz (MHz) band) most effectively in the coming decades. The UHF band represents "prime real estate" in terms of use, capacity and reach. Commissioner Neelie Kroes also announced new rules on the harmonisation of spectrum bands used by wireless microphones, also in the UHF band, as well as the first report of an inventory showing how EU Member States are using their radio frequencies today and what to focus on tomorrow. Combined, all three elements should help to secure the long-term future for broadband, broadcast and other wireless services in Europe.

GALILEO, the EU's satellite navigation programme
Galileo, the EU's satellite navigation programme, on 21 August sent two more satellites into space, reaching a total number of 6 satellites in orbit. The lift-off took place at the European spaceport near Kourou in French Guiana. The launch marked another milestone for Galileo as a step towards a fully-fledged European-owned satellite navigation system. These two satellites are the first of a new series which is fully owned by the EU. With the addition of a new wave of such satellites to the existing array, the availability and coverage of the Galileo signal is expected to gradually improve and bring us a step closer to the fully operational phase of the programme. The satellites launched, Doresa and Milena, were named by two schoolchildren who won an EU wide drawing competition to name them.

Connected Communities
The European Commission launched on 10 July launches the "Connected Communities" initiative – an umbrella for several systems designed to connect towns, cities, local broadband partnerships and operators to the advice they need to access finance and develop tailored business models for bringing fast broadband to their community.

Mobile data roaming price caps from 1 July
From 1 July 2014, the EU will cut the price caps for data downloads by more than half: down from 45 cents per megabyte to 20c/MB. It will become even cheaper to use maps, watch videos, check mails and update social networks while travelling across the EU.

5G mobile technology deal with South Korea
The agreement signed in Seoul on 16 June is a milestone in the global race to develop 5G mobile technologies. The EU and South Korea have agreed to work towards a global definition of 5G and to cooperate in 5G research. They also agreed on the need for harmonized radio spectrum to ensure global interoperability and on the preparation of global standards for 5G.

Commercial access to Earth observation data: new EU proposal
Businesses and research institutions will soon have more reliable access to commercial earth observation satellite data, according to a proposal presented by the European Commission in Brussels on 17 June.

New VAT rules on telecoms, broadcasting & electronic services
Taxation rules for telecommunications, broadcasting & electronic services will change on 1 January 2015. Current rules - New rules from 2015 - The Explanatory Notes for 2015 - One Stop Shop guidelines for 2015(available in 27 languages) - Events related to the new rules - Legislation now and after 2015

Taxation of the Digital Economy - final report
The European Commission has today received the final report of the High-level Expert Group on Taxation of the Digital Economy. This independent group was asked to examine key issues related to taxing the digital economy in the EU, and to present their ideas on the best approach to various challenges and opportunities in this field. It was completed after 5 months work by the Group, which consisted of 6 other experts from across Europe with different expertise relevant to this area.

Broadband state aid rules explained - handbook for decision-makers
The European Commission has published new guidance to help governments invest in broadband. The handbook is useful for any public authority investing in broadband or looking at co-funding projects with EU structural and investment funds (ESIF).

The Data Retention Directive
The Data Retention Directive was adopted in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Madrid in 2004 and London in 2005 as there was a sense of urgency to harmonise the European efforts to investigate and prosecute the most serious crimes.

Roaming in the EU - New figures highlight continuing high costs - BEUC
Following today's publication by the European Commission of its pan-EU household survey on telecoms roaming costs, Monique Goyens, Director General of The European Consumer Organisation commented:

Connected Continent: a single telecom market for growth & jobs
As the world moves rapidly towards an Internet-based economy, directly affecting everything from traditional services such as banking and insurance to new sectors such as online retail, and from industrial production to energy supply, ICT is increasingly seen as a source of the smart, sustainable and inclusive growth envisaged in Europe 2020. However, Europe lacks a genuine single market for electronic communications. The Union is fragmented into distinct national markets and as a result Europe is losing out on a major source of potential growth. The European Commission welcomed the conclusions of the 2013 Spring European Council, calling for measures to create a Single Telecoms Market as early as possible. Three years of consultations, public events and private meetings inform these proposals - including two major public events with 1000 participants in June. On 11 September 2013, the European Commission adopted a legislative package for a "Connected Continent: Building a Telecoms Single Market" aimed at building a connected, competitive continent and enabling sustainable digital jobs and industries.

Roaming: 300 million extra customers for telecoms companies when roaming charges end: survey
94% of Europeans who travel outside their home country limit their use of services like Facebook, because of mobile roaming charges, according to a new survey of 28,000 EU citizens. The European Commission calculates that telecoms companies are missing out on a market of around 300 million phone users because of current pricing strategies, with negative effects for other businesses such as app makers.

e-Communications Household Survey and Telecom Single Market Survey Roaming Results (Special Eurobarometer 414)
94% of Europeans who travel outside their home country limit their use of services like Facebook, because of mobile roaming charges, according to a new survey of 28,000 EU citizens. The European Commission calculates that telecoms companies are missing out on a market of around 300 million phone users because of current pricing strategies, with negative effects for other businesses such as app makers. Results per country

Eurapp - a study of the European app economy launched by the European Commission and run by DERI, NUI Galway and GigaOM Research - will provide a comprehensive review of the size of the app economy in Europe so that it can be further supported by the DAE and other initiatives. We will produce innovative and pragmatic recommendations detailing how to overcome various bottlenecks identified in the app economy, using pragmatic ways in which to reach stakeholders, deploying effective research instruments and impact assessment methodologies for the app economy (in particular in relation to jobs creation)

Sizing up Europe's app economy
The EU's app sector has gone from zero to digital superhero in less than five years. By 2018 it could employ 4.8 million people and contribute €63 billion to the EU economy according to a report presented in Brussels today. The study, carried out by GIGAOM and NUI Galway for the European Commission, shows that Europe's app developers are up to the challenge of taking the global lead. Currently, EU and North American developers generate the same levels (42% each) of app revenues in crucial EU and US markets. Although the future is bright, developers have raised concerns about the skills gap, connectivity and fragmentation which could put the app boom at risk.

Sizing the EU app economy
This report focuses on sizing and qualifying the EU app ecosystem, with an eye toward revenue generation, jobs supported, and the bottlenecks still facing EU app developers.

Portable Electronic Devices
Passengers will be able to keep their mobile phones switched on in airplane mode during flights, under new guidance published today by the EU's Aviation Safety Agency.

MEPs support the universal mobile phone charger
On 26 September, the Internal Market & Consumer Protection Committee of the European Parliament unanimously adopted MEP Weiler’s report on the proposed directive on radio equipment. ANEC welcomes the support of MEPs for an amendment intended to see the introduction of a universal charger for all mobile phones.

Will Europe's telecoms market overhaul benefit consumers?
The telecoms sector in Europe is to get a regulatory shake up under wide ranging plans launched by the European Commission.

'Connected Continent' telecoms single market package
The European Commission has adopted its most ambitious plan in 26 years of telecoms market reform. Launched by Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in his 2013 State of the Union speech, the “Connected Continent” legislative package, when adopted, will reduce consumer charges, simplify red tape faced by companies, and bring a range of new rights for both users and service providers, so that Europe can once again be a global digital leader.

New EU roaming price caps from July 1
Phone calls, SMS texts and data usage costs when roaming within the EU will be further axed from July 1.

Samsung - Enforcement of ETSI standards essential patents (SEPs)
The European Commission has informed Samsung of its preliminary view that Samsung's seeking of injunctions against Apple in various EU Member States on the basis of its mobile phone standard-essential patents ("SEPs") amounts to an abuse of a dominant position prohibited by EU antitrust rules. While recourse to injunctions is a possible remedy for patent infringements, such conduct may be abusive where SEPs are concerned and the potential licensee is willing to negotiate a licence on Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (so-called "FRAND") terms. The sending of a Statement of Objections does not prejudge the final outcome of the investigation.