Telcos all over the EU are celebrating after their overlords at the European Commission officially gave 5G and fibre the green light.

As part of the latest state of the union propaganda fest Margrethe Vestager, who now goes by the title of Executive Vice-President for a Europe fit for the Digital Age, said she recommends member states invest in 5G and fibre. The reason for this eureka moment is that Vestager reckons investing in infrastructure might help the recovery from all the self-harm inflicted in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Broadband and 5G connectivity lay the foundation for the green and digital transformation of the economy, regardless if we talk about transport and energy, healthcare and education, or manufacturing and agriculture,” said Vestager. “And we have seen the current crisis highlight the importance of access to very high-speed internet for businesses, public services and citizens, but also to accelerate the pace towards 5G. We must therefore work together towards fast network rollout without any further delays.”

Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market, has also become a believer. “Digital infrastructures have proven to be crucial during the pandemic to help citizens, public services and businesses get through the crisis and yet recent investments have slowed down,” said Breton.

“At a time when access to broadband Internet represents both a fundamental commodity for Europeans and a geostrategic stake for companies, we must – together with Member States – enable and accelerate the rollout of secure fibre and 5G networks. Greater connectivity will not only contribute to creating jobs, boosting sustainable growth and modernising the European economy, it will help Europe building its resilience and achieve its technological autonomy.”

On the apparent assumption that member states don’t have a clue about where to start rolling out next generation networks, the EC has published what it calls a toolbox of best practice. As ever these ‘recommendations’ are, in fact, a long list of orders that must be obeyed. Members must commit to do what they’re told by May 2021 and must report on their progress a year later, the inference being that if they fall short they’ll be in trouble.



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