On Friday Nick Read Chief Executive Officer, Vodafone Group, delivered a keynote speech at LSE’s German Symposium event, where he highlighted the importance of the EU Recovery Funds in enabling Europe to Build Back Better, and why Europe must set higher ambitions for its digital transformation, in order to lead on a global scale.
He also stressed the importance of freeing up spectrum which he calls the ‘lifeblood of operators’, and emphasises the crucial role businesses can play in helping Europe achieve its Green targets and ambitions.
“We are at a pivotal moment – the digital economy is combining with the industrial economy, through gigabit connectivity, edge computing, cloud, AI & IoT. Europe is already a leader in these industrial sectors. But we have to set a higher ambition for our digital transformation, to stay a leader. We cannot risk falling behind in an area which is so critical to European jobs, European industries and Europe’s future as a whole.”
Nick Read’s speech, entitled Building Back Better: Delivering the Next Generation of Connectivity for Europe, was given at the LSE German Symposium.
“Today Europe has global leadership in many industrial sectors – manufacturing, automotive, defence, energy, space, to name just a few. But critically, the industrial world is merging with the digital world. It will be new digital technologies that will drive the next wave of productivity in most of Europe’s traditional industries. If we do not accelerate our European capability, we will lose to China & the U.S.”
“All of this is dependent on best in class digital infrastructure – it is fundamental to Europe’s competitiveness. It is far from best in class today. It is hard to believe, but in Europe just over 40% of households are not covered by any form of fast connectivity service. Those households cannot work remotely; they cannot access online education or digital healthcare. Overall, Europe has a growing connectivity investment gap of over €40bn a year. Governments do not have the budgets to close this gap on their own. We need a model where policies encourage private investment alongside public funds.”
“As a priority, the Recovery funds – combined with private investment – should be focused on investing in rural connectivity, to address the digital divide and accelerating the deployment of 5G across Europe, along with the decommissioning of inefficient 2G/3G technology, to enable Gigabit connectivity to underpin a globally competitive Europe.”
Read adds: “If governments are going to extract an excessive tax on us to get the spectrum, then it is hard for us to roll out quickly, because we only have a finite amount of cash and resources, especially at these challenging times. You find in other countries like China, the operators are not paying anywhere near the same level for the spectrum, and what the governments are wanting is deployment of network as a priority. Unfortunately European governments have charged too much for spectrum, over too short a time period.”