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BEREC strategy 2021 - 2025

Starting: 10 Mar Ending

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Together with the call for contributions to the public consultation on the draft BEREC WP 2020, a first call for input to the review of the BEREC Strategy was launched on 7 November 2019. After considering the  input received from respondents the 42nd BEREC Plenary meeting approved the Draft BEREC Strategy 2021-25 for public consultation.

This latest update of BEREC’s strategy covers a period of five instead of three years, namely 2021-2025. This extended period enables better alignment with the legislative cycle of the European Commission, and the objectives and new priorities set out by President von der Leyen for the period of 2019 -2024. At the same time, the structure of the BEREC strategy is being kept so as to follow the strategic high-level priorities around connectivity, digital issues and end-users. To ensure that the BEREC strategy remains relevant and aligned with future developments, BEREC will revisit its strategic priorities over the course of the period.

The stakeholders are invited to express their views on the draft strategy 2021-25.

This early call for input is the first stage of the consultation process for the WP 2021. BEREC will consult again on its draft WP 2021 after the third BEREC Plenary of 2020 (1-2 October 2020).

Interested parties are kindly asked to send their contributions for both the BEREC Strategy 2021-25 and their early input for the BEREC WP 2021 no later than 13 April 2020 (17:00 CET) to the BEREC_Strategy_2021-2025@berec.europa.eu address or provide it here through the BEREC online consultation platform.

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The 5G network, heralded as a cloud of solutions, will be part of a common infrastructure combining radio, satellite and optical networks. Beginning with at least one 5G network per city per Member State by 2020, the European Commission expects 5G coverage in all urban areas and along all major transport routes in the European Union by 2025 as well as cost savings to be realised[4].


The transition to 5G will also pave the way for network virtualisation and disaggregation[5] which will change how networks are built and operated and how services are managed. An important feature of 5G is network slicing, which promises to enhance network efficiency and improve service performance through the ability to designate each service or user with the required quality at the required time.


Network intelligence will likely become more centralised through network orchestration[6], while service quality will depend on the available resources at the edge of the network. Data centres and content delivery networks, a key component in cloud computing and already an area of considerable growth and expansion, will continue to play an important role for the provision of high-quality digital services.


5G is expected to create an ecosystem for technical and business innovation involving vertical markets[7]. It is likely to become the cornerstone for digital connectivity and a major driver of economic growth, promoting competition and serving social needs. 5G will allow the implementation of new services such as telemedicine, large numbers of devices for the internet of things (IoT), autonomous vehicles and smart cities, eventually connecting everything and everyone to a single digital ecosystem. In order to ensure these developments can take place and are not delayed by a lack of action from public authorities, an appropriate regulatory framework needs to be in place as well, e.g. spectrum regulation, access regulation to ensure access to sites, infrastructure sharing etc.


In a broader perspective, new connectivity technologies may emerge in this 2021 – 2025 time frame to serve new needs either for the general public or for tailor-made solutions dedicated to business users in their respective sectors. Common to all new wireless connectivity technologies, whether 5G, wifi or something else, is dependence on the availability of fibre backhaul. Ensuring that the right conditions apply for investing in fibre networks and that there is sustainable competition in the market will therefore be conditions that determine the pace of development of next generation connectivity solutions in Europe.


While the digitalisation of society holds great opportunities and the potential for huge efficiency gains, there will also be new risks and challenges associated with this development. Along with the attention given to the (shared) roll-out, interoperability, spectrum availability and 5G business models (and in addition to acceptability questions), concerns relating to security, robustness, privacy and integrity of the digital ecosystem have grown in recent years, and will likely continue to require the attention of regulators and policy makers. Making sure that everyone has the ability and capacity to participate in the digital society, i.e. bridging the digital divide and providing functional and equivalent access for those with disabilities will be of equal importance, given that a digital society will only be possible with the inclusion of all citizens. Therefore, consumer protection needs to be up to the new challenges and regulators must be active in enforcing transparency and more generally consumer rights.


In order to accelerate the transition to digital services and the wider digital ecosystem, broader access to higher quality and higher resilience internet-based services will remain important. The internet has intensified competition by making it easier for consumers to compare prices and companies to deliver services to consumers, producing a disruptive effect on the dynamics in various service markets. However, as market fundamentals have changed, so are new structures also being established and potential bottlenecks now forming. The new market dynamics are by no means limited to the electronic communications sector but affect all industries in our connected society. The increasing availability of data and analytical tools is changing a significant part of the European economy, enabling innovative business models, new products and processes, cost reductions, better-informed decisions by consumers, institutions and firms, as well as providing new growth opportunities[8].


Data-centric business models are now becoming the norm in the digital economy, and access to data and the use of algorithms is likely to have significant impact on competition dynamics in digital service markets. Network effects and scale and scope economies make growth the most prevalent strategy in platform markets, which can lead to new concentrated market structures. In addition, they raise questions about the impact of digital platforms[9] with regard to both the principle of internet openness and competition, and whether the current competition framework can address any anti-competitive behaviour or whether sector-specific regulation might be warranted.


As an intrinsic part of digitalisation, big data and artificial intelligence (AI) are also expected to have a strong impact, both societally and commercially. AI is a general-purpose technology with a multitude of applications in all industries, such as healthcare, government, transport or finance. The versatility of AI in products and services in combination with its potential to impact citizens in myriad ways is the key reason why AI has become an area of such strategic importance for the European Union.


AI-based systems are furthermore of particular relevance[10] to the telecommunications industry due to their potential for various stages of operations (network roll-out, network optimisation, transmission optimisation etc.), new services (new revenue streams or business models, different categories/classes of services), customer service (customer service enhanced by natural language processing), data management (collection, validation, analysis etc.) or security (fraud detection, cybersecurity etc.). Traditional telecommunications operators may employ AI technologies in regulated areas, potentially affecting efforts in net neutrality, end user rights, data protection, competition (in terms of data economy) or security.


Besides the ongoing digital transformation, climate change is another defining phenomenon of our time. Digitisation promises to bring major efficiency gains that will translate into major reductions of greenhouse gas emissions[11]. At the same time, the digital sector’s environmental footprint is increasing, with a growth in energy usage occurring. Currently, ICT today accounts for around 4%[12] of the European carbon footprint (equivalent to civil aviation), with an overall 8% to 10% rising trend[13]. Hence, the environmental consequences of digital technologies require careful assessment of direct impacts, such as energy consumption and end-of-life disposal, and indirect impacts, e.g. change in consumption patterns and choices.


Finally, on the policy side, in view of the strategic priorities adopted by the European Commission, there are several policy goals for the digital market in the EU that are relevant for BEREC to consider:

- creating the right framework to allow Europe to make the most of the digital transition;
- promoting full connectivity by stimulating private investments while reducing the cost of roll-out in very high capacity networks;
- developing a new Digital Services Act and assessing the need for ex ante rules on digital platforms to tackle bottleneck issues;
- strengthening the EU’s cybersecurity framework[14] and capabilities and develop a coordinated European approach on artificial intelligence;
- retaining a strong focus on digital innovation, while ensuring the continued modernisation of key transport systems;
- closely monitoring the transition to the digital economy which raises many other policy and regulatory issues, from competition issues related to market power, to labour issues related to the platform economy or taxation;
- updating of the Digital Education Action Plan;
- a new European Green Deal which will be one of the main projects of the new European Commission.

These priorities will guide the work of the EU Commission in 2020-2024. They are also likely to have a strong impact on BEREC’s work during this period.


Please submit your comments on Chapter II here:

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For the period 2021-2025, BEREC will plan its multi-annual work around the four strategic objectives of the Code, and in the process give special consideration to the three high-level strategic priorities listed below, as well as the priorities set for institutional and international cooperation. These strategic priorities are based on the market developments outlined in the previous section, and refer to areas of interest that BEREC should cover under the strategic objectives mentioned above.


The high-level priorities are further subdivided into more concrete areas of interest to indicate the work BEREC intends to focus on. The strategic priorities will not define the full scope of BEREC work for the five-year period 2021-2025 but will be recurring topics in BEREC’s work programme for the coming years. The order in which the priorities are listed does not imply any sort of ranking.


The successful implementation of the Code and the focus on sustainability will be important horizontal principles that will form an essential part of the high-level priorities and the concrete areas of interest mentioned above. BEREC will further monitor the impact and the effectiveness of the EECC with a view to collecting sufficient quantitative and qualitative data for future reviews (as required under Article122-123 of the EECC).


BEREC will engage in working on sustainability considering the ICT-related parts of the upcoming Green Deal and the Agenda 2030 targets to identify the sustainable development goals that could be relevant for BEREC. In addition, it will assess how to contribute to more sustainability by adding an environmental focus to its workstreams and the running of BEREC as an organisation, taking into account the objectives of the European Commission to be proposed in the Green Deal. BEREC could contribute to the assessment of the above-mentioned impact as well as developing an understanding of how to reduce the carbon footprint, a topic which is gaining importance in the digital sector. End-users could also be empowered by raising awareness of the environmental impact of electronic networks.


BEREC will keep connectivity as a strategic priority in the coming five years. This means prioritising work that improves the conditions for the expansion and take-up of secure, competitive and reliable high-capacity networks (both fixed and wireless) across Europe and ensures a smooth transition from legacy infrastructures.