A new debate over net neutrality is set to overtake Europe as telecom companies prepare to roll out 5G mobile technology by 2020.
On July 7, a coalition of 20 telecom companies in the continent — including Vodafone, Telenor, Orange, Nokia, BT, Ericsson, Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom, and Hutchison — put together the “5G Manifesto for timely deployment of 5G in Europe.” The seven-page document, signed by executives from endorsing companies, outlines requests from governments as they ready themselves to deliver 5G service across Europe, with some of these requests relating to regulation of the open internet.
With the goal of demonstrating the technology on a large scale by 2018, the manifesto briefly details a plan to ultimately launch 5G commercially in at least one city in every country in the EU by 2020.
While the document is mostly used to outline the key advantages of 5G, its purpose serves to warn governments of the potential dangers of over-regulation of the open internet, essentially arguing against intervention.
“The telecom Industry warns that the current Net Neutrality guidelines, as put forward by BEREC, create significant uncertainties around 5G return on investment,” the document states. “Investments are therefore likely to be delayed unless regulators take a positive stance on innovation and stick to it.”
The document further goes on to detail the danger of restrictive net neutrality rules, because with 5G comes the concept of network slicing to accommodate “a wide-variety of industry verticals’ business models on a common platform, at scale and with service guarantees.”
Ultimately, the document recommends that any implementation of net neutrality laws should “allow for both innovative specialised services required by industrial applications and the Internet Access quality expected by all consumers.”
And while telecom companies had a difficult time making headway in the United States with net neutrality, the powers that be in Europe seem to look forward to hearing more from the industry.
Gunther Oettinger, the European Commission’s digital chief, said he welcomed the manifesto and discussions with the coalition.
“These will help us focus on the key levers to ensure European digital leadership in 5G,” Oettinger said, according to Ars Technica UK. “The manifesto is a valuable input for the 5G action plan that will be presented in September, together with the proposal for the review of the telecom regulatory framework.”
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