Creative Commons photo by Вени Марковски.
Neelie Kroes, the EU Commissioner for Digital Agenda and Vice-Presidents of the European Commission, spoke at the last meeting of Radio Spectrum Policy Group (RSPG) in Brussels on February 20. Her speech was titled “Thinking European, and winning the wireless race.”
For the first time, she clearly acknowledges the need for a combination of the internet and broadcasting.
“I don’t see this as a win-lose exercise. And nor do I listen to those who argue that the internet will end broadcasting. Not only does the consumer need both industries, they both need each other, and increasingly overlap. The internet gives a new platform, a new chance for broadcasters to offer higher-quality services – on-demand and interactive. While watching that online content is an increasingly significant driver of broadband demand, including wireless. These are sectors whose future lies together. We need to understand how they will evolve, understand how much spectrum they will need, and find the right way forward.”
Her three page long speech didn’t start very out of the ordinary, though. She calls for cooperation and encourages industries that have been known for competition to come together in order to boost Europe’s presence and importance within the wireless economies.
“I am delighted to be here with the real spectrum experts. Spectrum matters. Already it supports over a quarter of a trillion euros of economic activity a year; and ever-growing in its uses.”
She signalled a worry that 8 of the top 10 mobile phones are made outside Europe and that some of them do not support “important European spectrum bands.” Kroes calls for better dialogue and cooperation with both the mobile and broadcasting industries in order to help Europe regain a leading position within wireless. She mentions both the UHF and the VHF bands and shares her plan to set up “a High-Level Group from industry, dealing with both political and technical aspects.”
She also talks about the importance of looking at the growing convergence of services and following consumer trends and platform competition in order to be successful by delivering “the single market jackpot,” and to be heard internationally. She seems to understands the urgency and states that “the sooner we do it, the sooner all the sectors involved can start planning for the future.”
The EU Commissioner signals a clear, clever and aggressive strategy. The internet is usually looked upon as young and trendy and has so far stolen the spotlight more often than not. By clearly stating that broadcasting is a part of the future, that consumers need both and that the industries need and can benefit from each other, Kroes proves her ability to change course when needed and before it is too late. Storms get tough unexpectedly and without much warning. Courageousness delivered. Thank you, Kroes!