Statement by Ryan Heath, Spokesperson of Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Digital Agenda, on "Connected continent? Three-quarters have no 4G access!"
Brussels - EC/Berlaymont
On 25 July 2013, Ryan Heath, Spokesperson of Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Digital Agenda, made a statement on the limited access to 4G in Europe, at the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Exterior view of the Berlaymont building in Brussels, Belgium
||Soundbite by Ryan Heath, Spokesperson of Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the EC in charge of Digital Agenda, (in ENGLISH): The Commission is very worried about the state of 4G mobile access in EU. You have a got a situation where only about one quarter of people have access to any 4G network at all, and if you live outside a major town or a city, there is no 4G access. So, that is something where we see citizens in rural areas basically being treated as second class citizens when it comes to the mobile networks and that is something we are all going to feel as we go on our summer holidays this year. Even if you have 4G access in a town when you head to the beach or the mountains, there is no chance that you have any fast network that you can use. We don't think that is good enough in a modern economy. That is not something we should accept in 2013 in Europe.
||Soundbite by Ryan Heath, (in ENGLISH): So, we have a situation where there are three countries in Europe that have no 4G access at all anywhere. So, that is Ireland, Malta and Cyprus and at the other hand of the spectrum, you have three countries; Germany, Estonia and Sweden that have an advanced roll-out of 4G. So we have a very uneven situation and that is why we are trying to make a better allocation of spectrum, part of the Telecom single market package that the Commission is going to adopt in September.
||Soundbite by Ryan Heath, (in ENGLISH): So, as anyone who has tried to use the mobile in Brussels knows, it is embarrassing, annoying and difficult when your mobile don't work. Like we constantly have our phones dropping out in Brussels, like many other cities and towns across Europe because we don't have 4G and that means the networks are congested on the old systems. If you compare it internationally, it is really getting to a state where it is quite embarrassing. In the US, more than 90% of people have access to a 4G network. In Europe, it is the opposite; you have only a quarter of people who have access. And if you look at who has global 4G subscriptions around the world, Europe has only 5 % of the subscriptions; we are actually behind Africa in a lot of ways. That is great news for Africa but it is not really where Europe should be if you look at the advanced stage of our economies here.
||Soundbite by Ryan Heath, (in ENGLISH): It is getting to be very annoying for millions of people now. So if you think about how much you spend on your smart phone, when people are buying tablets, these things cost hundreds of Euros. The device that people think is essential for their social network and for doing their day-to-day business. If those devices don't work, and that is what happens when the network is getting congested, and if there is no way for people to use a faster 4G network, then that is something that really impacts on people day-to-day lives. And I think that we should not be in that situation, We know how to fix this and that is by allocating 4G spectrum. The technology exists, the demand exists and we have this bureaucratic problem at the national level at the moment that is stopping that from happening. So that is what we want to fix with our telecom single market package in September.