Where does Europe stand with superfast rollouts?


Yves Gassot,
CEO, IDATE DigiWorld

A recent report from IDATE DigiWorld underscores the extent to which European markets as a whole lag behind the superfast access targets set by the Digital Agenda, including: 50% of Internet households subscribing to a connection of more than 100 Mbps in 2020.

At the 10th annual Assises du Très Haut Debit (Superfast broadband symposium) hosted by Aromates and IDATE DigiWorld in Paris on 6 July, we delivered a sneak peak of our coverage figures for Europe at the end of 2015, drawing on our own FTTx databases, the latest data collected from regulators and operators, along with our freshly released market report, “The Digital Agenda for Europe: a snapshot”.

European superfast and ultrafast rankings: 30 and 100 Mbps NGA coverage (December 2015)
Source: IDATE DigiWorld, Digital Agenda Europe, July 2016

Clearly, the situation varies dramatically from country to country, and the objectives set by Europe will be hard for some countries to achieve without a major policy push. The most advanced countries benefit from a strong cable footprint and an incumbent carrier that has made less ambitious technical choices than extensive FTTH rollouts. Belgium, for instance, combines vast a and dense cable system that has been upgraded to the latest Docsis technologies (>100Mps) and the top carrier’s choice to upgrade its legacy copper network to VDSL (>30Mps).

On the whole, the largest countries in Europe are less likely to achieve all of the Digital Agenda objectives. In France, for instance, the combination of giving top priority to achieving extensive FTTH rollouts, the relatively limited cable coverage (40% of households) and the very gradual deployments in the country’s more rural areas based on public-private partnerships – which will eventually coverage 40% of access lines – have put the country among the lowest ranked in terms of availability of superfast access lines and average connection speeds. The situation is better in the UK and Germany where BT and DT were quick to deploy VDSL (>30 Mbps) access products, in response to aggressive competition from cablecos. Meanwhile Spain, which has combined investments in FTTH and cable, also tops France in the rankings. Only Italy, whose incumbent dragged its heels on significant spending on FTTH and was unable to capitalise on a cable system, is faring less well than France.

The IDATE DigiWorld report reveals that, once ultrafast access networks are in place, customers are eager to sign up. We have therefore noted a much higher NGA take-up rate in those areas where ultrafast access (100 Mbps and faster) is available. This means that we can count on a virtuous cycle of differentiation that encourages market players to invest in faster networks, not with a view to continually increasing the price of access plans, but rather to enable solutions that meet a growing array of needs.

When considering these future scenarios we must not, however, underestimate the complexity of the regulator’s task which, up until now, has been defined by European copper LLU rules. The fact of replacing ADSL with VDSL (with Vectoring/Bonding and G.fast) and FTTH would seem to give the incumbent a natural advantage, setting up a duopoly with cable. But this is too simplified a view since we also need to take into account (particularly when looking at the regulatory situation in France) the potential for duplicating superfast infrastructures in very high-density areas, how it is in operators’ interest to pool their investments in medium-density areas, and the role of public-private partnerships in sparsely populated areas, not to mention the promise of superfast mobile.

Hope you all have a great summer!

Delve deeper into our analyses of superfast access in Europe by ordering our latest reports:

The Digital Agenda in Europe: a snapshot
World FTTx market: Markets as of December 2015 & Forecasts to 2020

And don’t miss other recent releases from IDATE DigiWorld:

Industrial Internet:  the 4th industrial revolution
World OTT Markets: Markets & Forecasts up to 2020
Content Economics: How is digital distribution impacting content industries?

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Mobile payment: M-commerce market revenue will likely grow from 2015 to 2019 at a CAGR of 26.5%


Hao Yi Emerging technologies expert, IDATE DigiWorld

The development of the mobile payment market was still heterogeneous in 2015.



The m-commerce payment market grew steadily, whereas the in-store mobile payment market remained nascent given the transaction volume, although the release of Apple Pay one year earlier had seemingly put an end to the doubts about near field communication (NFC) being the right technology for in-store proximity payment.


IDATE DigiWorld estimates that the worldwide m-commerce market revenue will likely grow from 2015 to 2019 at a CAGR of 26.5%, growing its share 26% of the overall value of the e-commerce market to 44.2%. As regards the arrival of in-store mobile payments with NFC technology, QR code, mobile wallets, mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) solutions and other mobile payment methods, IDATE DigiWorld values their transaction volume to grow at a CAGR of 74% between 2015 and 2019. The volume of in-store mobile payments is tiny compared to the trillions of USD of all point-of-sale (POS) transactions.

On the in-store payment market, no one has really ‘wined out’ as yet, although Internet giants (Apple, Google and Samsung) as well as card networks (Visa and MasterCard) are very active, and numerous new entrants are flooding in.

In addition, NFC payment working with mobile wallets did not see the expected explosion in volume. Even though the technology and NFC-enabled POS terminals have been progressively in place for many years, the perceived value of such services is low for consumers.

From the perspective of merchants, mobile payment alone is not enough to bring about mass adoption.

Find out more about this market in our dedicated report

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Video Solution providers: video distribution will grow by close to 25% per year up to 2020


Jacques Bajon, Director of Media and Digital Contents Business Unit, IDATE DigiWorld

Given, though, the tensions on unit prices, increasing internalisation and competition, the growth in value will be lower than in volumes.



The media industry has to find answers to the increasing personalisation of video consumption. This trend is firming up through the development of on-demand video services and the growing uses of personal devices. Video distribution solutions are needed for the industry, offering them:

More operational efficiency to integrate more IP in their systems;

The ability to adapt to the accelerating innovation cycles being driven by Internet players, with shorter time-to-market solutions and services;

Greater flexibility in an IP-video environment which is in constant evolution.

Alongside the traditional (broadcast) TV distribution chain, a new ecosystem has developed to tackle the needs of the Internet video delivery.

Major improvements have been made over recent years to provide a consistent OTT video experience to end users, including ABR solutions, edge-content caching, the development of software-based solutions and the increasing use of analytics. Some challenges still lie ahead, among them:

Ensuring an always-on quality of service, in particular together with the growth of video traffic and the possible advent of game-changing live-OTT streaming;

Managing the increasing complexity of media assets;

Improving the use of ‘big data’ to favour a better, and more personal, user experience and more efficient advertising.

A large consolidation process occurred in the market between pairs joining up to enhance solution line-ups and/or create end-to-end solutions, and with the verticals where large telcos and cablecos invested in video-management solutions. In turn, new trade-offs then came to the table including for operators and media groups the possible integration of some distribution technologies, the development of collaboration, the increasing use of hybrid (cloud) solutions and the option to choose externalising technical processes.

The move to more IP-based facilities is strong, such as the softwarisation of processes and tools. This shift towards software is to be concretised in a wider concept of software-defined video, which has yet to take shape on a much broader scale. A step further, the virtualisation of process in the cloud has already started.

Popular product line-ups, mainly focused on the idea of enhancing the consumer experience, include seamless multiscreen and TV-everywhere solutions which are already well advanced, unified user interfaces, cloud video recording (CVR), personalisation of video services through big data solutions and recommendation, metadata for enhanced content archiving and circulation and more. Live OTT still has to prove its feasibility on a massive scale and heavy bets are being placed on programmatic ads.

Discover the perspectives,  key trends, and scenarios about the TV market for the next decade through our dedicated report

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Digital Agenda for Europe: IDATE DigiWorld reveals ultrafast access ranking for European countries


In its roadmap for the Digital Agenda, Europe has set out three main coverage and take-up targets for Internet access.

The first is 100% broadband coverage for European households by 2013, taking into account the use of fixed, mobile and satellite solutions. The second is 100% superfast coverage (i.e. 30 Mbps and up) in most Europe countries, although some are still far from having achieved this. The third is calculated in terms of take-up: 50% of homes passed must have access to a more than 100 Mbps connection.

At the 10th annual Assises du Très Haut Debit (Superfast broadband symposium) held in Paris on 6 July, market research firm IDATE Digiworld gave a sneak peak of its coverage figures for Europe at the end of 2015, and presented a benchmark of the rate of progress in each European country.

‘For the first time, and drawing on our own databases as well as information collected from regulators and telcos, we are able to estimate ultrafast access (i.e. above 100 Mbps) rollouts, shipments and sales in Europe,’ reports Dominique Meunier, head of IDATE DigiWorld’s Telecoms division.

European superfast and ultrafast rankings: 30 and 100 Mbps NGA coverage (December 2015)


Source: IDATE DigiWorld, FTTx World Market (June 2016)

The situation varies dramatically from country to country, to say the least, and the objectives set by Europe will be hard for some countries to achieve without a major policy push.

The most advanced countries benefit from favourable geographical features, a strong cable footprint and less ambitious technical choices. Belgium, for instance, combines vast and dense cable systems that have been upgraded to the latest Docsis technologies (>100Mps) and the top carrier’s choice to upgrade its legacy copper network to VDSL (>30Mps). Another example is Lithuania which has opted for a massive investment in a new fibre network, doing away with its obsolete copper system.

On the whole, the largest countries in Europe are on track to achieve the Digital Agenda objectives. France, however, has set itself ambitious targets for fibre rollouts, its cable networks have a relatively small footprint and the planned investments from government bodies, which were to cover over 50% of total rollout costs, have resulted in only very gradual deployments. Lagging behind the other major countries of Europe, such the UK and Germany which were quick to roll out VDSL (>30 Mbps) access products and boast widespread cable coverage, and even Spain (cable +FTTH), France is ahead only of Italy and will need to accelerate the pace of FTTH access line shipments to make up for lost time.

Lastly, the report reveals that, once ultrafast access networks are in place, customers are eager to sign up. We have therefore noted a much higher take-up rate in those areas where ultrafast access is widely available.

> Assises du Très Haut Debit programmes


 Discover the perspectives,  key trends, and scenarios about the THD market for the next decade through our dedicated report

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Conclusions of the DigiWorld Future 2016 debates


Yves Gassot
CEO IDATE DigiWorld,

The next stage in the digital revolution will be the big leap forward in major manufacturing sectors, now being pressured to make the digital transition by a combination of game changers: IoT, big data and artificial intelligence.


IDATE DigiWorld has just published the latest edition of its DigiWorld Yearbook. Three public events are held every year, in Brussels, London and Paris, to coincide with its release. Under the banner of “DigiWorld Future,” these events attracted more than 800 industry professionals this year, and allowed both our own teams and a host of industry luminaries to discuss market trends and our predictions for the internet, telecom and TV markets in 2025.

Looking at market trends, our belief is that in the coming years we will need to move beyond the uncertainties over the smartphone market’s loss of momentum, the disappointments over the poor performance of pioneer wearable tech, and over how long it is taking for a mass market to develop around virtual reality. Of course they are all signs of the time, just like economists’ concerns that perhaps Moore’s Law no longer applies and that productivity gains have been decreasing since 2006.

We nevertheless believe that an extraordinary potential surrounds the game changers born of the combination of the Internet of Things (IoT), big data and artificial intelligence – and no doubt 3D printing as well. The tremendous work being done in these arenas by companies such as Michelin and Engie, which were outlined at our DigiWorld Future event[1], will undoubtedly have an impact in terms of productivity and transforming value chains – not least in furthering the servicisation trend in customer relations. We are clearly at a pivotal moment in time: when innovation is flourishing but positive outcomes are still some way down the road. It will still take some time for the pieces of the technical puzzle to come together (whether the still complex issues surrounding network standardisation or IoT management platforms) and for the required human expertise and appropriate business models to be put into place.


> Watch the replay


Scenarios for the future

Recognising market trends is also a way for us to identify the core variables of future market scenarios, not to predict this or that players’ strategy, but rather to build a solid foundation for a structured exploration of the different (and deliberately opposite) possible futures.

We have chosen two main avenues when mapping out our scenarios for the internet’s possible futures. The first avenue distinguishes the scenarios according to whether or not they rely heavily on processing and utilising personal data – something that will ultimately be influenced by internet users’ willingness to share their data, and on regulatory restrictions.

The second allows us to define scenarios with respect to standardisation and competition levels. In very basic terms, we could imagine on the one hand an extreme decomposition of market functionalities thanks to a vast selection of available open source software and API (the dream of geeks everywhere) and, on the other, a push to integrate the latest innovations into the massive platforms run by the Internet giants (Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple), reaping the benefits of economies of scale and network economies.



Naturally, for those wanting to delve further into these projections, the wisest course of action would be to get a copy of the 2016 DigiWorld Yearbook, where you will also find our teams’ insights into the different markets that make up the DigiWorld, along with valuable data and analysis of the events that have shaped the past 12 months.

As always, we welcome any comments and suggestions you might have for the 2017 and all future editions of our DigiWorld Yearbook!

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the 2016 DigiWorld Yearbook

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[1] But also a host of other manufacturers (GE, Audi, Airbus…) along with the major service (hotels) and finance (banking and insurance) industries, mass media, telecoms, etc.


Public Policies for UFB Deployments


Nicolas Moreno
Senior Expert, IDATE DigiWorld

The connected continent: reality check



Nicolas Moreno points out : “In May 2010, the European Commission unveiled the objectives of the Digital Agenda for Europe (DAE). The Digital Agenda is one of the key elements in the European growth strategy for the coming years (Europe 2020) with a target of a 30Mbps coverage for all households in EU-28, of which the half subscribing to a >100Mbps offer.

We conducted a study benchmarking national broadband plans in 7 countries – France, Germany, the UK, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Portugal – in order to provide metrics on the national BB plan advancement. It appears that Portugal and the UK are leading the game regarding the DAE objectives with France and Italy lagging behind.

The disparate coverage levels in the seven countries being studied cannot be attributed to any single factor, but rather to a combination of demographics, technological choices and the strength of private investment.”

National broadband plans – where do we stand regarding DAE

At this stage, as not all national schemes have reached completion, it is impossible to pinpoint a set of best practices, not least because each country’s situation is so different at the study’s outset. Each has established a public policy (objectives, technologies) based on its own situation and features, which makes it very hard to extrapolate to other situations.

Current status compared to DAE objectives


Source: IDATE DigiWorld, National FTTH public policies in Europe, June 2016

The implementation of national plans was accompanied by basic legal measures aimed at facilitating UFB rollouts nationwide. These actions were either included directly in the national plan or ratified in parallel, in response to the different laws.

Summary of regulatory measures introduced in the countries being studied



* As part of symmetric regulation in large cities

Source: IDATE DigiWorld, National FTTH public policies in Europe, June 2016

The programmes also have the common feature of making use of three different sources of financing: European, State and local, with the exception of Portugal where only European and national funding are being used. They do, however, differ in how they apply their support models:

Direct investments: public design-build-operate (DBO) model, i.e. public authorities assuming all three roles, although there may be public-private partnership (PPP) elements as well;

Indirect investments: a public network managed by a private entity, i.e. outsourced or operated as a concession;

Support for local initiatives: high-speed network rollout on the community’s initiative;

Private operator subsidy: a private sector operator given public funding for its rollout, also referred to as shortfall financing or private DBO.

The biggest budgets for national programmes today are in countries where UFB coverage needs are at their highest: 45% and 44% of households eligible for a 30 Mbps plan in France and Italy, respectively. Because of their demographic situation, Sweden and Portugal did not require a large budget to build out coverage and, in some countries (France, Germany, Spain, Sweden), rollout initiatives from local authorities preceded national programmes.


These national plans are vital but in themselves not enough to achieve complete superfast coverage, or nationwide ultra-fast 100 Mbps coverage down the road. That is the reason why search for complementary private investment is one of the cornerstones of all national plans.

The degree of public action varies from country to country, depending on their current situation. The government’s role in creating incentives for private financing is just as important as its role in helping to fund rollouts in those parts of the country ignored by private operators that deem them unprofitable.

Provide you with in-depth knowledge of each examined national broadband plan (technologies deployed, governance monitoring system, detailed data, cross-country analysis grid…) through our new report.

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Industrial Internet: towards the 4th industrial revolution


Samuel Ropert
Lead IoT expert at IDATE DigiWorld

We can already observe the integration of IoT technologies in industry assets – which is commonly called smart factory – and emerging use cases, reducing costs and increasing productivity strikingly.

In our latest study we propose an analysis of the heterogeneous industrial landscape on three major axes: Infrastructure (Industry assets), Offering (innovative products accompanied by related services) and Relation with customers.

Industrial Internet is gaining momentum, but still needs several years for larger adoption and especially for an establishment of common standards – today several technologies and concepts coexist and only the fittest will survive when market maturity is reached.

The industrial infrastructure of industrial assets will be optimised through the development of the smart factory concept by implementing new manufacturing practices that take advantage of ICT innovations. This aims to go beyond the introduction of new technologies in the production process. The core principle is the increase in connections and integration of the different ICT-enabled components in a single networked system. The developments of the smart factory result in gains in production costs as defects are eliminated and automation reduces the intensity of human resources in production tasks. Value thus shifts to research and development and design tasks on the one hand, and to after-sales services on the other hand. These shifts impact players, enabling the development of smaller-scale units focusing on the design and engineering of products on the one hand, and the emergence of platforms and ecosystems on the other. Adoption is still limited as we are but in the early years of the smart factory. Major industries now adopting the smart factory encompass aeronautics, automotive and consumer electronics. Energy and transportation are also deploying IoT solutions along their distribution network architecture.

The Industrial Internet (IIoT) is also considered as a way to improve the appeal of core products by providing more services associated with machines rather than expecting new revenues. As a consequence, vertical players are tending to lower their expectations for data monetisation, focusing essentially on using data for process optimisation mainly, bringing more value to their core products. This is even more true for very expensive machines (aircraft, heavy equipment). However, some industries like automotive still aim to generate additional recurring service-based revenues over time through additional interactions (rather than standalone product sales with renewal several years later). They are pushing their subscription-based services, even though the real adoption is still under interrogation (even for premium manufacturers).

In addition, servicisation is also used to increase customer loyalty, where the traditional product purchase (transaction relationship) is being transformed into a recurrent relationship between suppliers and clients. Moreover, new innovative and disruptive pricing models will be introduced, with the example of tyre manufacturers which sell services (on a per-km basis through Tyre-As-A-Service) for professional fleet managers.

Data will play an important and central role in the future as many players aim to leverage the data collected from the connected objects, chiefly for business reasons. There are still questions around the real monetisation of the data as it is based on the ownership of the data itself and its related control. Early initiatives show data use for internal use, circumventing data privacy issues. To build data-managing platforms, the biggest industry players are tending to develop their own digital solutions. For smaller players, data will likely be exploited by third parties, as they lack the appropriate technical expertise and capacity to combine with other data.

The market of the Industrial Internet will be driven by the enabling technologies (LPWA and big data chiefly) which provide disruptive features. Moreover, different national and international initiatives such as Industry 4.0 or the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) support the development of these new technologies led by the automation and engineering industry giants.


However, in addition to doubts around data monetisation, the market is also facing such barriers as security and reliability concerns, interoperability issues and potential societal impact on workforce training and employment. Furthermore, this is leading industrial giants to have their own data-oriented department and they are required to acquire new skills and expertise around data – a process which also takes time.


Get more insights on infrastructure, products and services, customer relationship related to Industrial Internet as well as an analysis of the value chain, possible monetization of data and general drivers and hurdles.

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IDATE DigiWorld predicts better connectivity and hyper-personalised internet services.


The independent telecoms, internet and digital media analysts at IDATE DigiWorld have announced a number of trends to look out for over the next decade in its annual DigiWorld Yearbook report, out this month.

These include cheaper smartphones, dwindling sales of tablets, the increasing use of IoT technologies, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR), and sustained growth in the digital economy. The European think-tank expects to see a continued rise in cyber-attacks and trust issues surrounding digital companies, which will lead to enhanced security protocols as consumers embrace the Internet of Things (IoT), especially to help protect their connected cars or smart homes. Improved connection speeds, especially for Europe, and better reliability for mobile and household internet services are also on the cards, with a gradual move from 4G to 5G and fibre-optic broadband (FTTH).

In its research, IDATE DigiWorld looks at how further consolidation in the telecoms industry could be replaced in future by more cross-industry mergers between networks, technology, television, media, transportation and industry: for instance, companies like Google and Apple making further in-roads into the automotive industry; or major telco and tech companies buying more into television and streaming services.

With sustained growth in online services, the industry experts at IDATE DigiWorld expect a gradual shift away from owning to using: for example, people sharing cars via an app; or streaming music and video-on-demand films, rather than buying CD’s, DVD’s or downloads. The move towards more on-demand, subscription services is likely to be driven by the increasing use of ad-blocking software which, in turn, could make the abundance of free internet services (like YouTube) a thing of the past.

“A wide range of services are sold for a minimal per-unit cost and consumed en masse, which helps to build a gigantic digital services market for telecoms and internet, estimated at more than €2,900 billion in 2025, or almost 7% annual growth,” said the report.

The two-hundred-page report also considers how Bitcoins, blockchains, mobile payments and crowdfunding will impact the future of banking and finance, arguing that further development in internet services will help ‘cut out the middleman’ in other industries too, like travel and retail. Other considerations include Big Data and how EU legislation is coping with data privacy and protection, as well as how, in future, more access to personal data might affect people’s insurance premiums or requests for loans.

“We’re riding a wave of innovation that’s never been seen before, especially in the business sector with the continuing migration to the Cloud and the prospects that the Internet of Things, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence might bring. However, at the same time, this throws up a number of potential issues, such as how the Public Cloud is now in the hands of tech giants like Amazon, Google and Microsoft,” said François Barrault, President of IDATE DigiWorld.

Despite a context of relative saturation, as shown by recent stagnation in smartphone sales, IDATE DigiWorld predicts modest growth returns for Western telcos and digital media companies during the years ahead; but bigger gains in China, India and Africa, where further global consolidation is expected both at the European and worldwide level. In television, Asia/Pacific will become the world’s largest market during the next decade, while growth in the main European markets will be weak, and possibly even negative.

“European markets are also still very much weighed down by a very tough competitive and regulatory climate for telecom carriers whose revenue has been on a downward slide since the late 2000s,” said Yves Gassot, CEO of IDATE DigiWorld. “Internet services continue to enjoy double-digit yearly growth of nearly 15%. The segment is expected to represent close to 10% of the entire digi-world in 2016, a figure that will only increase in the near future: in just two years from now, internet services will be out-earning television and video services, which will nevertheless continue to grow by 3% to 4% a year.”

The DigiWorld Yearbook 2016 has been compiled using its own datasets, market reports and 2025 prospective analysis with the support of many leading players in telecoms, IT, internet, TV and digital media, with more than 50 members that include Accenture, AT&T, BT, Google, Gemalto, Huawei, IBM, Microsoft, Orange, Tata and Samsung.

The findings of the report are being presented this year to various industry chief executives keen to share their outlooks on the 2025 digital economy, through a series of DigiWorld Future conferences: in Brussels, on the 25th May; in London, on the 2nd June; and in Paris, on the 14th June. The complete programme is available at www.digiworldfuture.com

DigiWorld Yearbook infographics

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Buy the DigiWorld Yearbook 2016 Edition on our website !

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Allocation of new frequencies


Carole Manero
Senior Consultant IDATE DigiWorld

Disappointing results for the mobile industry and satisfactory results for broadcasters and the satellite industry.


World Radio Conference-15 key outcomes

Spectrum is vital for many industries – allocations are decided at a WRC. At the most recent WRC, late in 2015, many hot topics were raised, including the allocation of new frequencies to International Mobile Telecommunications and to satellite services. Globally, WRC-15 led to some very important conclusions. In the end, it delivered disappointing results for the mobile industry and satisfactory results for broadcasters and the satellite industry.

Focus on item 1.2: the 700 MHz band, 96 MHz identified for IMT use in Region 1 and in few countries in Region 3

The 700 MHz frequencies are very valuable and often considered as golden spectrum because of its propagation characteristics. The 700 MHz band is of critical importance for players both in the MEA and in Europe. In Europe, broadcasting carries a considerable weight in the industry, something that is less clear in MEA. These differences required caution on the part of the authorities.

In Europe the band corresponds to the second digital dividend. In the USA, 700 MHz frequencies correspond to the first Digital Dividend in the USA (1997-2008). In Region 3 (Asia-Pacific), the 700 MHz band corresponds to the first Digital Dividend.

At present, the 700 MHz band is still being used by digital television services in Europe (despite the WRC-12 allocation to IMT use). In some countries it is used by mobile services. It is being freed up for mobile broadband in many parts of the world.


Key milestones

It has been a long journey to freeing up 700 MHz frequencies.

In 2007, 108 MHz of spectrum (698-806 MHz) for mobile services in Region 3 were identified at WRC-07.

In 2008, the USA auctioned 700 MHz spectrum.

Four years later in 2012, WRC-12 agreed on allocation of 700 MHz to mobile services (except aeronautical mobile) as a co-primary use with broadcasting in Region 1.

As a kick-start to 700 MHz freeing up, the EC mandated CEPT in 2013 to develop harmonised technical conditions for the 700 MHz band in Europe.

In 2013 and 2014, some Middle Eastern, Asian and Latin American countries auctioned 700 MHz frequencies with spectrum to be freed up as from 2015.

During the year 2015, the first 700 MHz spectrum auctions took place in Europe.

­     In June 2015, more than 5 billion EUR were collected in auctions covering multiple frequencies (700, 900, 1800 and 1500 MHz). Bids for 60 MHz of spectrum in 700 MHz frequencies’ auctions alone reached 1 billion EUR (12 eurocents per MHz per 10 years).

­     In France, 700 MHz auctions which ended in November 2015 raised almost 2.8 billion EUR for 60 MHz on sale (35 eurocents per MHZ per 10 years), almost three times the amount reached in Germany. Finland and Sweden expect to auction 700 MHz spectrum before 2017 (respectively in January and April). The UK will make the 700 MHz available for mobile services by early 2022 and earlier if possible. In other European countries, the future of the 700 MHz is being considered.

During the year 2015, the first LTE-700 MHz commercial services were launched.

WRC-15 outcome for the 700 MHz band

The 700 MHz topic had raised an intense debate before the conference. Broadcasters tried to defend their positions while mobile operators wanted to attract additional spectrum.

As expected, the selection of the 700 MHz (694/698-790 MHz) band as an IMT band was decided at the WRC-15 within Region 1 and 16 countries in Region 3 (including Australia). Broadcasters succeeded in protecting their services with the WRC-15 promise of “full protection” for DTT services.

Harmonisation between regions in the world was at stake. Before the conference a number of band plan options had been considered, especially in Europe, while other countries aligned to the APT700 plan, a harmonised band plan for 698-806 MHz for Region 3 which was approved by ITU. The entire band, according to the APT plan, enables the use of 2x45 MHz for FDD operation. A TDD plan has also been defined.

Post-WRC-15 status of the 700 MHz band worldwide

Access the full report Key Outcomes from WRC-15 to get more background data, decisions on items and what will shape the WRC-19 and WRC-23.

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Interview with Wassim CHOURBAJI


Published in DigiWorld Economic Journal DWEJ No. 102 
"Mobile dynamics: the path to 5G"

Interview with Wassim CHOURBAJI
Vice-President, Public Policy and Government Affairs, Europe, Middle East and North Africa, Qualcomm

Conducted by Denis LESCOP, Télécom Ecole de Management, Evry, France



DW Economic Journal: "What do you really mean by 5G from a technology perspective?"

Wassim CHOURBAJI: As we did with 3G and 4G, Qualcomm is leading development of technologies for 5G. We are designing a unified, more capable 5G platform to meet expanded and radically diverse requirements. 5G will be much more than just a new generation with faster peak rates. We are building a 5G platform to connect new industries, enable new services and empower new user experiences in the next decade and beyond. The foundation of this platform is a new OFDM-based 5G Unified Air Interface that is scalable across all services and spectrum. 5G will usher in the next era of enhanced mobile broadband experience with more uniform high data rates everywhere, lower latency and lower cost per bit. It will connect massive numbers of things through the ability to scale down in data rates, power and mobility. It will enable new mission critical services with ultra-reliable low latency links. It will provide edgeless connectivity with new ways for devices and things to connect and interact. 5G will be also a platform for all spectrum bands and types, designed for licensed spectrum from below 1 GHz for coverage to mmWave for extreme bandwidth as well as for unlicensed and shared spectrum.

How will 5G impact the everyday life of people?

Wireless connectivity transformed human communication. With 5G, we're extending its reach and adding intelligence to transform everything else. 3G and 4G have enabled people to experience broadband on their smartphones and tablets, wherever they are, indelibly changing the way we communicate with one another. We take this for granted now, but it was actually science fiction less than two decades ago. The next step, which is quintessential to the long-term realisation of 5G, is the massive social and economic impact of the tens of billions of devices and things that will get connected to each other, to the cloud and to people, unlocking greater efficiencies, personalized services and new user experiences. This will profoundly change our lives.

Where devices such as smartphones and tablets are now still the endpoint of communication, countless methods of connectivity and interaction will emerge in homes, cars, cities, healthcare and more. Where data services are now limited to certain providers and insights, there will be near unlimited insight available thanks to a broad expansion of all kinds of discovery services. It will not just be devices that will be "smart", it will be the connectivity itself. Intelligence will be found at the place where interactions are happening and will no longer be buried in the data centre or confined to a wall garden – it will make those interactions more intuitive, immersive and secure for people.

How will 5G impact the everyday life of enterprises? Can we say that 5G will open tremendous business opportunities?

The transition that businesses will experience towards 5G will be as sweeping as that experienced by consumers, and arguably even more so because the stakes in terms of competitiveness, economic growth and job creation are extremely high. I think it is fair to say that there are tremendous opportunities for businesses big and small, but the value created by spurring technological innovation with 5G will strongly depend on the policies under which industry at large will digitize and evolve.

Businesses have so far had to adapt to a changing environment where the internet has expanded to cover most, although not all, processes related to selling and distributing goods and content. To name but two obvious examples: e-commerce has metamorphosed retail and wholesale distribution operations; and the web has completely revolutionised publishing and journalism. These changes were basically driven by the fact that people could suddenly buy things and access content online. It's a process that started in the early days of landline internet connectivity, but which has really been boosted by mobile thanks to anywhere, anytime connectivity.

But as I said, with 5G the change will not simply be about connecting people to the Internet – more people, in more places and at faster speeds – but crucially about bringing intelligent connectivity to everything. So it is not just the sale and distribution of goods that will come into play – it is the very products you are developing as a business that will be affected. You used to be a company that was top-notch at designing and manufacturing this great product, but now you need to think in terms of your connected product – what you want to do in this new environment is deliver greater efficiencies, personalised services and new user experiences. You need to stay relevant to the user or people will be drawn elsewhere. You need to be skilful in doing that because there are many other companies out there which will take any opportunity they have to disrupt your market.

How are regulators – and especially the European Union – supporting (or not) the emergence of 5G?

I think the European Commission has really embraced the vision of 5G as a cornerstone of Europe's competitiveness. In April, the Commission earmarked 5G as a technology standards priority. The fact that Europe has leadership positions in so many key industrial sectors and that European industry needs to take advantage of the business opportunities that will potentially be enabled by 5G connectivity is not lost on Vice President ANSIP, Commissioner OETTINGER and the Commission as a whole.

I see the Digital Single Market as essentially a statement that Europe cannot afford to waste this opportunity. I like the fact that it goes back to the concept of the Single Market, one of the greatest achievements not just for Europe but arguably for humanity – there is no other place that equals Europe's level of social and economic unity, imperfect though it may be, between peoples, countries and interests that used to be so disparate. Implicitly, what it says is that the key to making the Single Market stronger for Europe and the world in the 5G digital era is to stay true to its core values of integrating differences.

When you transpose integration from different countries to different industrial players, the process is actually not that different. And when you translate integration into digital terms, you are talking about interoperability. That is why I think we see a strong emphasis on facilitating more cross-sector partnerships in the European Commission's recent Communication on ICT Standardisation Priorities for the Digital Single Market. We need more collaboration and strategic vision to bring together "traditional" non-ICT industries, the telecoms industry and the rest of the value chain to deliver on the promise of interoperable 5G connectivity. Europe can turn its apparent complexity into an asset.

There are a lot of initiatives that the Commission is facilitating with a view to 5G, such as the Alliance for Internet of Things Innovation (AIOTI) and the 5G Action Plan. Where I think Europe needs to act more quickly is spectrum and the review of the regulatory framework. Notably, I think Europe should decide fast and by 2017 on a list of "pioneering" 5G bands in the low, mid and high ranges, as well as a roadmap for the harmonisation and coordinated release of these bands across Europe. This will help industry players to invest and develop interoperable 5G standards globally and pave the way for commercial deployment in 2020. In Europe, there is a lot of potential in bands such as 700 MHz and 3.4-3.8 GHz, which are suited for IoT and "Industry 4.0"-type deployments, as well as in the 24 GHz and 31 GHz bands, which can deliver extreme mobile broadband bandwidth.

How should the framework be modified to better support 5G initiatives?

In terms of policy direction, I think we need to be aware of the paradigm shift between the old Digital Agenda for Europe and the new Digital Single Market strategy, which should very much reflect the shift from connecting people to connecting everything that I've talked about earlier.

We are used to having Digital Agenda targets that are linked exclusively to "fast internet access for all", called broadband objectives, like for instance 30 Mbps for 99% of people. That is good if you are trying to connect more people, in more places and at faster speeds, but if our aim is to bring, with 5G, intelligent, reliable and secure connectivity to new industries, which have different kinds of requirements, then these targets are no longer sufficient and we need new ones. These new targets should also address the vicious circle of the 3 "lows" the mobile industry is facing in Europe, and which I and others have talked extensively about. Low revenues, low use and thus low investment. The current targets solely address the supply side, with network coverage and speed obligations, and I think new targets should also address the demand side. This is key for takeup and revenues, bringing both the mobile industry and verticals together.

So I think the Digital Single Market targets should be specified for example as 1-Gigabit connectivity by 2030; 70% penetration of connected vehicles by 2025 and 100% by 2030; 100% road coverage by 2025; 60% penetration of remote monitoring for chronic patients in 2025 and 100% of low latency, very high data rate cloud access by the same date. I think these targets are far more meaningful from both a societal and economic perspective. I believe there are ways to incorporate these new elements in the upcoming review of the EU telecoms regulatory framework to make it futureproof and 5G-ready.

Does 5G raise issues pertaining to standardisation?

Yes, the main issue being that we'll need standardisation like we've never needed it before. As you expand the need for connectivity beyond people to literally everything, you can easily imagine that there is going to be a need to invest billions and billions of euros to create and evolve interoperable solutions that can cater to the many different requirements coming from the different sectors. The 5G platform is expected to be introduced with 3GPP release 15, forecast to be complete in 2018 for 5G commercial launches in the 2020 timeframe.

We will need high-performance standards, incorporating intensive levels of interoperability. If we only end up with extremely basic functionality incorporated in standards, we'll see much less interoperability, follow-on innovation and competition along the value chain. The bulk of the technology that consumers will be interested in may end up being developed by one or a very limited number of players that will control it in full. That is going to be bad for consumers and the rest of the market.

What this means is that standardisation needs to remain a priority for Europe. As I said, given that 5G will be about complexity, thanks to its leadership in standards Europe has a real chance of turning what many perceive as a weakness – the need to intermediate between contrasting interests, be it Member States or industrial sectors in our case – into an asset. So I welcome the Commission's intention of facilitating cross-sector partnerships for standardisation – I think this initiative can unlock situations where market players aren't naturally inclined to sit together at the table, which results in them losing commercial opportunities and the entire market not moving forward.

At the same time, one cannot forget that the investment needed to develop and evolve highly interoperable standards will come first and foremost from industry players. If standardisation is not an appealing option for them, they will not participate and we won't have the standards we need. And as one can easily imagine, fair return on investment is a top priority for businesses, including when the decision has to be made as to whether or not they want to contribute their inventions to standards and thus allow access to those inventions. There is always the option of going proprietary if participating in standardisation is not generating fair value for you. And, as I said, this would represent a risk for society in that it would lead to less interoperability, less follow-on innovation and less competition.

How are actors positioning themselves around the question of standardisation and intellectual property?

Balanced and effective intellectual property rules are essential, on the one hand, to incentivise companies to contribute their technology to standards and, on the other, to enable access to standardised technology. It is a balance that we absolutely need to get right as there is too much at stake.

I think the dynamics of the IP and standards debate haven't fundamentally changed in the last few years. Repeatedly, concerns are raised about Standard-Essential Patents (SEPs) and Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) licensing. These concerns, which took centre stage during the ill-famed "smartphone wars", have proven to be tragically unfounded when it comes to smartphones and tablets. As mobile communications standards have improved and included more and more patented technology in the various iterations of 3G and 4G, average device prices have been falling dramatically and we have witnessed a proliferation of new products with new features. Irrespective of any theoretical debate about "patent thickets" and "royalty stacking", it is quite clear we simply haven't seen any thickets or stacking in the actual market, which on the contrary has been incredibly successful in achieving innovation, competition and consumer choice.

That being said, there are now what I think are valid discussions about standards and intellectual property in the new context of the IoT. As the number of players who will need to implement standards in their different industrial products grows, including SMEs, there is a need to simplify access to standards for them. In this context, the Commission has announced plans in its Communication on ICT Standardisation Priorities to facilitate fast, predictable and efficient access that can keep in place the right incentives for companies to contribute technology to standards. We welcome this approach, which I think is shared among the major standards contributors, and we look forward to working with the Commission and other stakeholders to this end.

Key to a balanced environment for investment in and access to IoT and 5G standards is flexibility. The IoT and 5G are going to be new markets, and the different parts of the value chain are still in the process of figuring out how best to structure new business models and how to create and reward value. The proverbial "one size fits all" will really not work here. However, some vested interests are promoting inflexible interpretations of FRAND that would force companies to license their technology to lower parts of the value chain or at the level of the smallest-saleable unit. This would for sure devalue standardisation – what it amounts to is guaranteed destruction of value for technology contributors to standards. And as I said earlier, companies will not contribute their technology to standards if standardisation is not generating fair value for them. If we in Europe care about interoperability, we really shouldn't go down that route.


Wassim CHOURBAJI is Vice President and head of Government Affairs for Europe, the EU and MENA. He is the Managing Director of the EU Brussels Office and oversees Qualcomm's public policy, regulatory affairs and senior government relations. Wassim is member of Qualcomm Europe leadership. He leads an EMENA-wide senior team responsible for innovation, technology, intellectual property, telecoms & digital economy, spectrum, standardization, security, data protection and antitrust policy. Wassim is chairman of the Communication Policy Council of TechUK, the policy arm of the UK digital industry. He was previously chairman of the spectrum group at DigitalEurope, the Brussels-based EU industry association, and chairman of the European spectrum group at the GSMA. Prior to joining Qualcomm in 2006, Wassim was the head of spectrum for the France Telecom Group, overseeing the group's fixed, mobile and satellite spectrum strategy across its operating companies. He was also designated by European administrations as lead coordinator on 4G spectrum for Europe at the ITU World Radio Conference. Previously, he served as regulatory manager for SkyBridge, Alcatel Space global Internet satellite project. He started his career as a spectrum engineer at French mobile operator Bouygues Telecom. Wassim holds a master's degree in wireless communications and is a graduate engineer from Supelec France.
Twitter @WassimChourbaji

More information on DigiWorld Economic Journal No. 102 "What do you really mean by 5G from a technology perspective? on our website

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