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Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear Future Internet enthusiasts,
It is a great pleasure to be with you today in the closing of a successful Net Futures conference. I am glad that the recent events in Brussels have not kept you away from the European Commission's most important event about the Future Internet.
I am glad because we are two days after the very important announcement of a set of coherent policy measures, aiming at the digital transformation of our industry and our governments and at maximising their impact on economic growth.
The package on "Digitising European Industry" will reinforce the European Union's digital competitiveness and will ensure that every industry in Europe, in whichever sector, wherever situated, and of whichever size can fully benefit from digital innovations. Digitisation of products and services could increase EU industry revenues by one hundred and ten (110) billion euros a year. Our proposed package aims at making this happen.
There are numerous links between this package and the Future Internet, but I would like to mention three, which are very important:
First, communication networks: Networks are the starting point for digitisation, and for merging the physical and the digital worlds. The digital revolution will not be possible without this key enabling infrastructure that links them all.
The challenge is that communication networks themselves have to evolve and to adapt to the new digital economy. They need to move from "one size fits all" and "best effort", towards networks that can adapt to the versatile requirements of many industries, and that can deliver guaranteed and ubiquitous quality of service.
This is precisely what 5G is aimed to achieve: Changing communication networks into innovation platforms rather than mere voice and data pipes.
I am optimistic at this stage of the journey that Europe is on the right track.
However, we need more. We need to develop a common strategy to have 5G networks deployed in Europe. Let me just recall that we were first to develop 4G technology, but we are late in deploying it in Europe. The real benefits of 5G can only be reaped if we have 5G networks timely available in Europe too!
This is why I have announced at the Mobile World Congress earlier in February that the Commission will work together with industry to prepare a coordinated 5G Action Plan for Europe.
This Action Plan should be adopted later this year, at the same time as the Review of the Telecom Regulatory Framework, which will itself have a clear "5G perspective".
An important aspect of 5G is that it will further boost innovation in "vertical industries" which particularly benefit from enhanced connectivity such as automotive, transport and logistics, healthcare, broadcasting, energy management and others. This focus is a key service differentiator on the European 5G agenda, as compared for example to the focus in leading Asian countries.
The reflection with the telecommunications sector has already started. Vertical sectors have been invited to contribute to the Action Plan between now and the summer, so that the Plan can be built upon the concrete needs of businesses and citizens.
It is an open process and we will need each and every one of you to contribute because it is in your interest. However, it must also be a focussed process, and targeted to five or six areas where we can jointly make a difference on the basis of large scale cooperation.
I expect that the Plan will consider at least the following aspects:
- First, an industry-wide consensus on the calendar for commercial deployment and for planning the intermediate steps, as well as for showcasing new applications in Europe.
- Second, a clear strategy to involve the vertical industries with the telecommunications sector, to increase business synergies between sectors, to open up the standardisation process to new stakeholders, to enable joint investments in infrastructure across sectors.
- Third, new incentives to bring investment in fibre infrastructure to the next level, since there will be no 5G without ubiquitous fibre access. This will bear significantly also on initiatives at the level of Member States.
- Fourth, concrete proposals to have a truly effective spectrum management strategy for 5G, fitting the ambition of the Digital Single Market and the needs of the twenty-first century. In this area, Member States will have to make an effort, as twenty-eight national policies would not be workable.
- And finally, measures to ensure that the next EU telecom framework will be fit for 5G. Issues like the virtualisation of networks, the promotion of more flexible standards, the evolving competition landscape, have to be addressed.
As you can see, we are ready to act to ensure that Europe will deliver on a timely 5G deployment. However, no organisation can do it alone and we count on all the know-how and goodwill in this room to help achieving this goal which is – as I said before – so critical for our future competitiveness and creativity in Europe.
The second link with the Future Internet is Open Service Platforms.
Europe's relative weakness in digital consumer markets, in web and internet services and notably in data platforms is becoming a major challenge to the whole economy.
In addition, users feel that proprietary platforms do not satisfy their needs. They get locked-in to a specific provider and have very little influence on the evolution of the platform.
On the other hand, large and complex software systems are developed through large collaborations that need a common licensing to function and be effective. Therefore, industry-friendly open source licenses become the norm, for example Open Air Interface, Drupal and FIWARE.
Open platforms give the control back to users.
Open platforms enable faster innovation, facilitate interoperability, allow reuse of applications and avoid vendor lock-in. In addition, users can fully benefit from open innovation ecosystems of developers and start-ups.
Open platforms are fully in line with the DSM objectives and will act as a key driver for the Digitisation of the European Industry.
On 23 February, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, ATOS, Engineering, Orange and Telefonica announced the setup of the FIWARE Foundation – showing the way forward on behalf of the much larger FIWARE community.
The Foundation will ensure the long-term availability of FIWARE for users, for free, for ever. Also, it will ensure that FIWARE stays at the forefront of technological trends.
Through easy reuse of standard and open components, development costs and market entry barriers are lowered. Such reuse of standard, open components accelerates digitisation of any business or any industry sector.
But first, the foundation will focus on three important domains for Europe:
- Making Europe's manufacturing industry base more digital
- Turning cities into truly smart places and finally
- Managing better how we grow, process, transport and consume the food we enjoy in Europe.
FIWARE is not only an open Internet platform technology "made in Europe", but more importantly, it is a large ecosystem of industry, startups, developers and cities who want to put an end to closed platforms and liberate users locked-in by their vendors. FIWARE is people with a mission to innovate on the Internet.
That is why I am excited with the creation of the FIWARE Foundation, established by European industry to promote the trend towards open service platforms. This is a visible commitment of European businesses to bring more innovative internet services to consumers, citizens, businesses and the public sector.
It will contribute in making the European Digital Single Market a reality, and help innovation and entrepreneurship to thrive in the EU.
I suggest you explore how you too could join the fast growing FIWARE ecosystem, using it to innovate in your organisation.
And if you are already part of the FIWARE ecosystem, consider how you could increase your contribution to its growth, implementing applications and services, disseminating results, attracting more users and developers.
The third and final link I would like to make with Future Internet is the importance of standardisation in key areas like 5G, IoT and Cloud.
Through the 5G Public Private Partnership, we want to design 5G as programmable, energy efficient, resilient, secure and providing tailored level of service quality end-to-end.
And so far, I am happy with the progress achieved with the 5G PPP. Not only do we deliver on first-class research, but we have also a clear strategic vision for the years to come.
But in order to realise all that, we need to build global unified standards for 5G, and for that reason we have reached out to leading regions to try and avoid another battle of standards for 5G between Europe, Asia and America.
We also want to include a set of industries in the development of 5G standards: connected cars, tele-medicine, smart grids, immersive media, smart manufacturing. These are some of the industry partners that we are involving in the very definition of the 5G specifications.
In other technologies, like Cloud Computing, we have seen already the benefits for European businesses in terms of cost reductions, opportunities to develop innovative services, and drive the digital economy.
The benefit from cloud computing is expected to contribute over 100 billion euros more to the digital economy in Europe each year by 2020.
However, there is a risk that cloud computing develops in a way that lacks interoperability and portability, which will itself inhibit take-up and innovation in cloud services.
Standardisation activities in the domain of cloud computing should aim at achieving better interoperability of cloud services to support a vibrant Digital Single Market.
Good standards can lead to valuable certification. This is what we have to do:
- We must promote the use of existing relevant certifications and standards.
- We need to promote standards to ensure portability for cloud service customers.
- We must encourage open source communities to submit their innovations for standardisation. Open source standards enable transparency and build trust.
- We need to foster cloud standards for Privacy-by-Design, which support trusted products and services at global level in order for Europe to remain competitive worldwide.
- We must encourage collaboration between Standards Developing Organisations and open source communities for cloud computing services.
The Cloud Standards Coordination activity co-ordinated by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute has proposed over 100 existing standards relevant for cloud computing.
Finally, the Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe underlined in 2015 the need to avoid fragmentation and to foster interoperability for the IoT to reach its potential.
I am very pleased that the Commission is now putting forward a concrete list of actions to make the EU the leading region for the Internet of Things. This is one of the important messages of the DSM technologies and public services modernisation package.
We want to deliver the following 3 pillars:
Firstly, a single market for the Internet of Things: IoT devices and services must be able to connect seamlessly and on a plug-and-play basis anywhere in the European Union, and scale up without hindering from national borders.
We need a single rule book for the Internet of Things in Europe. Capable to properly address new challenges raised by the technology. This includes data protection, safety and liability rules, including the emerging issues of data ownership, rules on access and re-use of non-personal data in an industrial context, just to mention a few.
We also need standards for interoperability across Europe and ideally globally. And clear rules to address important issues like numbering and addressing of objects.
Secondly, a thriving IoT ecosystem developed through open environments, working across silos to support developer communities to innovate. Such an ecosystem would support IoT innovate in selected vertical markets.
Thirdly, a human-centred IoT: the IoT in Europe should be based on European values. The aim is to empower citizens rather than machines and corporations, thanks to high data protection and security standards, notably through a Trusted IoT label. The Commission will explore possibilities to develop a trusted IoT certification scheme, as well as model contracts to facilitate the cross-border operations of connected devices and IoT services.
Last year at Net Futures I had the pleasure to launch the Alliance for Internet of Things Innovation.
The Alliance has now become an important European voice for IoT, with almost 500 members, and a series of events, papers and contributions. It is working on stimulating innovation, standardisation and policy with the actors of the IoT value chain. The great work achieved by the Alliance has been an invaluable source of inspiration to develop the DSM technologies and public services modernisation package.
I expect that this is only the beginning of a fruitful and much needed collaboration with industrial actors. I would like to repeat my support for this Alliance, which can speed up our policies, and help make Europe the leading region for the IoT.
I am glad that right after my speech, you will have the opportunity to hear more about it from Michela Magas in this closing plenary session.
And I would like to leave you with this message:
We are at the dawn of a new era of the Internet technologies; an era that will be characterized by the digitization and connection of everything and everyone.
This new Internet era will not only result in multiplying by ten the connectivity and computing power. It will cause major changes in human behaviour and massive industrial and business disruptions.
We need to address this together and go beyond the current Internet into a Next Generation Internet of new technologies and architectures, but also of new personal, commercial and innovation attitudes towards it.
For Europe the challenge is not about whether or not 5G, open platforms, cloud computing and the Internet of Things will happen: they are already in the making.
The challenge is whether we will embrace them and shape them so that they fits our societies and benefit our competitiveness, or whether we will leave it to others to take the lead while we try to defend outdated business models.
I am an optimist. And I believe that our industry will lead the process of digitisation and seize it as a fantastic opportunity. Together we can invent the future and build a strong Internet ecosystem.