Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions — Communication on future networks and the internet

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Commission, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions — Communication on future networks and the internet, COM(2008) 594 final, 29.09.2008

Type Paper
Legal context EU
Abstract Over the last decade the internet has brought ab

out significant changes in our economies and societies. It has proved a remarkable communi cation and networking infrastructure, adapting incrementally to the needs of its users. It ha s created a world-wide web of knowledge sharing, creativity and collaboration and has been a major driver of globalisation. It has changed communication habits and is redefining the media sector by promoting the convergence of electronic communications and media services. New and traditional players are adapting to the challenges through new business models. The Internet revolution is not over. In the next few years the internet wi ll become much faster due to the rollout of very high speed broadband

networks and this will permit the launch of 

many new interactive media a nd content services. The internet will also become more pervasive; available anytime and anyplace due to

the widespread development of low cost 

wireless broadband and the merging of fixed and wireless communications. An "internet of things" will emerge whereby the web will b ecome the medium for machines, vehicles, appliances, sensors and many other devices to interact. This will provide the basis for many new applications, such as energy monitoring, tr ansport safety systems or building security. Finally it is widely predicted that software de livered as a service over the web will lower costs and raise performance, provoking a large leap in productivity for all businesses, large and small. Effectively deployed, the internet of the future will bring innovation, productivity gains, new markets and growth and jobs in the next decade. Europeans have massively adopted broadband a nd internet services. This is changing the economy and transforming lifestyles. But the bene fits of these significant changes for the European economy will only be unleashed if seve ral challenges are tackled. First the internet economy must be kept open, notably to inno vative business models. This requires the continuation and reinforcement of the current pro-competitive regulation of e- communications markets and appropriate c onsumer safeguards. Secondly, equipping networks for the internet of the future will require: major investments in infrastructure to create a high-speed internet; the development of th e internet architecture to meet future needs; and more access to spectrum on a flexible basis to allow wireless services to take to the air. Third, the exponential increase in internet use will raise security and privacy challenges. Public authorities have a responsibility to make su re that citizens can ha ve confidence that the internet of the future will be easy and accessi ble, safe and respectful of their privacy. This Communication should be seen

as a preparatory step towards the internet of the future 

with a focus on setting the framework condition s for keeping the internet dynamic, open and making it more secure. This Communication looks

at these issues, now playing out on the 

world stage 1 , and translates them in a European context by reviewing the main challenges ahead (section 2) and their related policy challe nges (section 3). In the light of the importance of the internet economy for EU competitivene ss, it also proposes a Broadband Performance Index to monitor developments towards a high-s peed internet infrastructure (section 4). But as Europe modernises itself for the economy of the future - in the context of the Lisbon Agenda post-2010 - it will also be

of paramount importance that 

solid foundations are laid for the growth that can come from this internet

of the future. A broader debate on the policy 

implications of these developments will therefore be needed in the coming months in order to develop the broader policy response to the in ternet as a generalised infrastructure for modernising the economy and society.

Topics Business Model, Competition, Consumer, Data Protection, Security, Information Security, Technology, Interoperability


Page 7: "EC competition rules (Articles 81 and 82 EC) will play a crucial role in preventing and removing anti-competitive conduct. These provisions allow tackling both abusive conduct of dominant network operators as well as co-ordinated conduct aimed at excluding other services or alternative operators from the market".

Page 8: "Convergence is also leading to many different devices and services having to talk to one another. For instance, the proliferation of nomadic services requires networks, handsets, content protection and security applications that are interoperable. Most of the time, these issues are resolved by market mechanisms: the win-win of open interfaces and standards is that the market can grow for all. However, and this is particularly relevant in the presence of network externalities, dominant players may try to use proprietary standards to lock consumers into their products or to extract very high royalties from market players, ultimately slowing innovation and foreclosing market entry by new players".