Tag Archives: Networks

Third-generation mobile communications

Third-generation mobile communications

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Third-generation mobile communications

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Information society > Radiofrequencies

Third-generation mobile communications

Document or Iniciative

Commission Communication of 11 June 2002: “Towards the full roll-out of third generation mobile communications” [COM (2002) 301 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES

Third-generation mobile services (UMTS or “3G”) are only gradually becoming a commercial reality in Europe. Their roll-out – initially expected in 2002 – is taking place more slowly than originally planned and the great expectations associated with their introduction contrast starkly with the difficulties facing the sector.

This communication provides an overview of the situation in the 3G sector and examines the main challenges posed by the deployment of 3G services from a financial, technical, commercial and regulatory perspective. It also looks at the various lines of action being taken to support the deployment process and enable the Union to remain at the leading edge of technological progress, as recommended by the eEurope 2005 action plan.

FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TO THE DELAY IN THE ROLL-OUT OF 3G SERVICES

The roll-out of 3G services entails a complex interaction between different players: users, manufacturers, operators and software/content providers. Moreover, this divergent web of interests is highly dependent on general economic, technological and service trends, because of the wide range of activities resulting from the anticipated broad service range on offer. In this respect, the roll-out of 3G services will be far more complex than the deployment of the second generation (2G) of mobile communications.

A financial factor

The telecommunications market is still performing better than the general economy, with market growth of around 10% in 2001, to which the mobile sector contributed 40%. Despite this encouraging performance, the sector has nevertheless been facing increased pressure from the financial markets. Recently, operators in fact decided to make huge investments – notably in acquiring market shares and in future businesses such as 3G – leading to a sharp increase in their debt level and consequently a downgrading of their credit ratings.

The availability of investment funds was therefore significantly reduced, at a time when the physical roll-out of networks required significant financial resources. In this difficult financial environment, operators have had to give priority to re-balancing their finances. Logically, this trend has negatively affected the 3G roll-out.

A technological factor

Technical difficulties relating to 3G technology have been reported, particularly dropped calls, glitches in the terminal software and insufficient battery capacity. However, these technical difficulties are normal when introducing new products of considerable technological innovation.

Compared with 2001, considerable progress has been made as far as handsets are concerned, with the transition from prototypes to the development of the first 3G models ready to be marketed on the European market. Moreover, several manufacturers have announced the launch of 3G terminals with a “dual-mode” capability (2G + 3G) for the second half of 2002. This type of terminal will be essential for European consumers who are accustomed to a 2G service environment, especially since 3G coverage is expected to grow only gradually.

A regulatory factor

At the beginning of 2002, all the Member States had finalised or at least started 3G licensing procedures, as foreseen under the European Union’s regulatory framework. The 3G licensing procedures revealed various trends:

  • four Member States (France, Belgium, Greece and Luxembourg) did not succeed in attracting a sufficient number of interested parties to issue all available licences. In these Member States, part of the amount of spectrum made available for 3G therefore remains unused;
  • the roll-out obligations came under scrutiny in those countries where early coverage obligations proved to be incompatible with the availability of equipment or the realistic possibility for operators to roll out networks. In the case of Spain, Portugal and Belgium, this led to the deadlines for the roll-out of networks being postponed;
  • in other Member States (Sweden and Finland), operators complied with roll-out obligations, albeit by setting up minimal network configurations used for experimental purposes rather than for a commercial service.

LINES OF ACTION

The Commission identifies three lines of action to support the 3G services sector and to demonstrate its commitment to achieving the goal of a full roll-out of 3G.

Stability of the regulatory environment

The mechanisms of the new Community regulatory framework are adapted to evolving markets and technology. They should therefore promote the creation of a supportive environment for the roll-out of 3G.

The Member States will be responsible for ensuring essential adaptations to licensing conditions as well as the clarification of regulatory aspects relevant to new trends (such as network infrastructure sharing).

Short- or medium-term measures

A certain number of difficulties have been identified in the short or medium term, in respect of which a proactive, supporting or stimulating role at Community level is seen as beneficial.

Operators face considerable difficulties when deploying the physical networks. Obtaining the authorisation for installing base stations has become a real challenge in a number of Member States, and there is a risk that this will impact on the planned roll-out schedule and increase costs.

These difficulties are due to environmental concerns relating to the installation of new 3G masts, as well as to the uncertain consequences on health of electromagnetic emissions from base stations. Longstanding efforts have been taken at EU level to protect the health of 3G users and to harmonise the levels of emissions considered as safe. Nevertheless, this harmonisation at Member State level is taking a long time, which is not only hampering the sector but also creating confusion for consumers.

At the same time, the Commission has undertaken to develop technical specifications for safe mobile equipment. These specifications, which are already available in the form of harmonised standards for mobile terminals, are in the process of being finalised for base stations. The Commission reiterates that scientific research has shown that the normal use of mobile equipment which complies with the existing safety exposure limits does not seem to have adverse health effects.

Moreover, the Commission attaches great importance to continued research efforts to accompany the current development of 3G services and their future evolution. Some of the activities carried out under the Sixth Framework Programme for research will therefore be useful in the roll-out of 3G services. Finally it will be necessary for the Commission to identify the new regulatory obstacles relating to the introduction of 3G services. For example, the anticipated use of mobile terminals and in particular 3G services for micro-payments has raised the question of the extent to which regulation applicable to the banking sector is relevant to the mobile sector.

Long-term measures

Community action plays an important role in ensuring the timely and effective availability of harmonised spectrum bands for 3G operations. In this context, the Commission has already launched a planning process with a view to making sufficient radio spectrum resources available.

A more flexible framework for handling rights of use of spectrum is necessary in order to promote investment in the radiocommunications sector. Using the mechanisms provided for by the Radio Spectrum Decision, the Commission plans to establish a dialogue with industry and national regulators on secondary trading of radio spectrum and its implications. This dialogue would focus in particular on the harmonisation of spectrum trading conditions and the timetable for implementing these harmonised conditions in the Member States.

CONCLUSIONS

The Commission concludes that it is best to let the market drive the process and to allow a competitive environment to generate new products. Nevertheless, public authorities can contribute to the creation of a climate of confidence by ensuring a predictable and stable regulatory environment.

In the immediate future, they can facilitate the physical deployment of networks by harmonising conditions and accelerating procedures. In the longer run, harmonisation in licensing conditions and assignment would avoid market distortions and uncertainty in the sector.

Related Acts

Commission Communication of 30 June 2004: “Mobile broadband services” [COM (2004) 447 final – not published in the Official Journal].
Technological and regulatory barriers are threatening European leadership in mobile broadband services and this communication looks at the challenges to be overcome in establishing a policy and regulatory framework for the sector’s development.

Commission Communication of 3 February 2004: “Connecting Europe at high speed: recent developments in the sector of electronic communications” [COM (2004) 61 final – not published in the Official Journal].
This communication stresses the need for long-term political support to promote the effective use of information and communications technologies (ICTs) within the European Union, and identifies measures designed to remove obstacles to additional investment.

Competition in the markets for electronic communications networks and services

Competition in the markets for electronic communications networks and services

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Competition in the markets for electronic communications networks and services

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Information society > Current general legal framework

Competition in the markets for electronic communications networks and services

Ensure that every undertaking has the right to provide electronic communications services or put in place, extend or exploit electronic communication networks without restriction.

2) Document or Iniciative

Commission Directive 2002/77/EC of 16 September 2002 on competition in the markets for electronic communication networks and services [Official Journal L 249, 17.09.2002].

3) Summary

Context

This directive continues the trend of liberalising the communications sector, launched by the Commission in 1999. It supplements the European regulatory framework applicable to electronic communications networks and services put in place by a General Directive and four Specific Directives of 7 March 2002.

Clarifications of the concept of electronic communications

Under the new Directive the terms “electronic communications” and “electronic communications networks” include all electronic communications services and/or networks which are concerned with the conveyance of signals by wire, radio, optical or other electromagnetic means, including therefore, the broadcasting of radio and television programmes. However, the directive excludes from the regulatory framework services providing or exercising editorial control over content transmitted, using electronic communications networks and services. This clarification confirms the distinction made by the new regulatory framework between services and content transmitted by means of networks and services.

Abolition of exclusive and special rights for electronic communications networks and services

The key provision of the directive provides for the abolition of exclusive or special rights granted by the Member States for the establishment and/or the provision of electronic communications networks, or for the provision of publicly available electronic communications services. Before 24 July 2003, each Member State must take the necessary measures to guarantee each undertaking the right to provide services or exploit networks, without discrimination, in accordance with a general authorisation regime which replaces the licensing system.

Only a reasoned opinion on the part of the competent regulatory authority within the framework of a general request for authorisation may prevent an undertaking from providing services or networks.

Vertically integrated public undertakings

Member States must ensure that vertically integrated public undertakings which provide electronic communications networks and which are in a dominant position do not discriminate in favour of their own activities.

Other services and networks

The trend to liberalisation also extends to directory and directory enquiry services, frequencies, television satellites and cable networks with the same objective of abolishing any unjustified restriction which might hinder the development of competing services.

Implementation

Member States must, by 25 July 2003, provide the Commission with the information enabling it to confirm that these provisions have been complied with and effectively implemented.

Act Date
of entry into force
Final date for implementation in the Member States
Directive 2002/77/EC 07.10.2003 24.07.2003

Strategy for a secure information society

Strategy for a secure information society

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Strategy for a secure information society

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Information society > Internet Online activities and ICT standards

Strategy for a secure information society (2006 communication)

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission of 31 May 2006: A strategy for a Secure Information Society – “Dialogue, partnership and empowerment” [COM(2006) 251 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Community action: overview

Up to now, the European Commission has tackled security issues in the Information Society by adopting a three-pronged approach embracing:

  • specific network and information security measures;
  • the regulatory framework for electronic communications and, in particular, the Directive on privacy and electronic communications;
  • the fight against cybercrime.

Community measures in this area also include:

  • European programmes devoted to research and development – the 7th Framework Programme will help reinforce security-related research by establishing a European Security Research Programme;
  • the Safer Internet programme, which promotes safer Internet usage and aims to protect end-users against undesirable content.
  • involvement in international forums addressing these topics, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the Council of Europe and the United Nations. At the world summit on the Information Society, held in Tunis in November 2005, the European Union (EU) strongly supported the discussions on the availability, reliability and security of networks and information.

In 2004, the Community established the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA). ENISA’s mission is to help increase network and information security within the Community and to promote the emergence of a culture of network and information security for the benefit of citizens, consumers, businesses and public sector organisations.

These measures and initiatives are to a large extent interdependent and involve many different stakeholders, and so a coordinated strategy is called for. This Communication sets out such a strategy for developing a coherent, holistic approach to network and information security.

KEY CHALLENGES

Despite the efforts already made, security continues to pose challenges to public bodies, businesses and private users alike. The risks are often underestimated even though the relevance of information and communication technologies (ICT) for the European economy and European society as a whole is undeniable. Furthermore, other critical infrastructures are also becoming more and more dependent on the integrity of their respective information systems.

Attacks on information systems

Attacks on information systems are increasingly motivated by financial profit. Personal data are illegally mined without the user’s knowledge, while the number of malware variants is increasing rapidly, as is the rate at which they are evolving. For example, spam is now used as a vehicle for spreading viruses and spyware.

Use of mobile devices

The increasing deployment of mobile devices (including 3G mobile phones, portable videogame consoles, etc.) and mobile-based network services poses new threats to security. These threats could turn out to be more dangerous than attacks on PCs as the latter already have a significant level of security.

Advent of “ambient intelligence”

Another significant development in the Information Society is the advent of “ambient intelligence”, where intelligent devices supported by computing and network technology will become a ubiquitous part of everyday life in the near future. This development brings with it many opportunities, but it will also create additional security and privacy-related risks.

Raising awareness of users

In order to successfully tackle the problem of underestimating the risks, all stakeholders need reliable data on security incidents and trends.

At the same time, it is important that awareness programmes designed to highlight security threats do not undermine the trust and confidence of consumers and users by focusing only on the negative aspects of security. Network and information security should be presented as a virtue and an opportunity rather than as a liability and a cost.

THE PROPOSED APPROACH

In order to tackle the challenges presented by network and information security, the Commission proposes an approach which is based on dialogue, partnership and empowerment.

Dialogue

The Commission proposes a series of measures designed to establish an open, inclusive and multi-stakeholder dialogue:

  • benchmarking exercise for national policies relating to network and information security. This should help identify the most effective practices so that they can then be deployed on a broader basis throughout the EU. In particular, this exercise will identify best practices to improve awareness among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and citizens of the risks and challenges associated with network and information security;
  • a structured multi-stakeholder debate on how best to exploit existing regulatory instruments. This debate will be organised within the context of conferences and seminars.

Partnership

Effective policy making requires a clear understanding of the nature of the challenges to be tackled. This calls for reliable, up-to-date statistical and economic data. Accordingly, the Commission will ask ENISA

  • to build up a partnership of trust with Member States and stakeholders in order to develop an appropriate framework for collecting data;
  • to examine the feasibility of a European information sharing and alert system to facilitate effective responses to threats. This system would include a multilingual European portal to provide tailored information on threats, risks and alerts.

In parallel, the Commission will invite Member States, the private sector and the research community to establish a partnership to ensure the availability of data pertaining to the ICT security industry.

Empowerment

The empowerment of stakeholders is a prerequisite for fostering their awareness of security needs and risks, thus promoting network and information security.

For this reason, Member States are invited to

  • proactively participate in the proposed benchmarking exercise for national policies;
  • promote, in cooperation with ENISA, awareness campaigns on the benefits of adopting effective security technologies, practices and behaviour;
  • leverage the roll-out of e-government services to promote good security practices;
  • stimulate the development of network and information security programmes as part of higher-education curricula.

Private sector stakeholders are also encouraged to take initiatives to

  • define responsibilities for software producers and Internet service providers in relation to the provision of adequate and auditable levels of security;
  • promote diversity, openness, interoperability, usability and competition as key drivers for security, and to stimulate the deployment of security-enhancing products and services to combat ID theft and other privacy-intrusive attacks;
  • disseminate good security practices for network operators, service providers and SMEs;
  • promote training programmes in the private sector to provide employees with the knowledge and skills necessary to implement security practices;
  • work towards affordable security certification schemes for products, processes and services that will address EU-specific needs;
  • involve the insurance sector in developing risk management tools and methods.

COMPLEMENTARY INITIATIVES

The Commission will complement this approach with other initiatives by

  • adopting a Communication on the way in which spam and other threats, such as spyware, is evolving;
  • making proposals for improving cooperation between law enforcement authorities and for addressing new forms of criminal activity – this issue will be the subject of a Communication dealing specifically with cybercrime;
  • creating an action plan to achieve the objectives of the Commission’s Green Paper on the European Programme for Critical Infrastructure Protection;
  • conducting a review of the regulatory framework for electronic communications in 2006.

Background

This Communication follows on from the ” i2010- A European Information Society for growth and jobs ” initiative, which aims to boost the e-economy in Europe. The i2010 initiative highlights the importance of network and information security for the creation of a single European information space.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission of 1 June 2005: “i2010 -A European Information Society for growth and employment” [COM(2005) 229 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Council Framework Decision 2005/222/JHA of 24 February 2005 on attacks against information systems.

Regulation (EC) No 460/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 March 2004 establishing the European Network and Information Security Agency [Official Journal L 77, 13.3.2004].

Directive 2002/58/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 2002 concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector (Directive on privacy and electronic communications) [Official Journal L 201, 31.7.2002].

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 6 June 2001: “Network and Information Security: Proposal for a European Policy Approach” [COM (2001) 298 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission to the Council of 26 January 2001: “Creating a Safer Information Society by Improving the Security of Information Infrastructures and Combating Computer-related Crime” [COM(2000) 890 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Internal energy market

Internal energy market

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Internal energy market

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Energy > Internal energy market

Internal energy market

To create a genuine internal market for energy is one of the European Union’s (EU’s) priority objectives. The existence of a competitive internal energy market is a strategic instrument in terms both of giving European consumers a choice between different companies supplying gas and electricity at reasonable prices, and of making the market accessible for all suppliers, especially the smallest and those investing in renewable forms of energy. There is also the issue of setting up a framework within which the mechanism for CO² emission trading can function properly. Making the internal energy market a reality will depend above all on having a reliable and coherent energy network in Europe and therefore on infrastructure investment. A truly integrated market will contribute to diversification and thus to security of supply.

A COMPETITIVE INTERNAL MARKET

  • Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators
  • Internal market for natural gas
  • Internal market for energy (until March 2011)
  • Internal market in gas (from March 2011)
  • Internal market in electricity (from March 2011)
  • Prospects for the internal gas and electricity market
  • Sector inquiry into the gas and electricity markets
  • Transparency of gas and electricity prices
  • Prospection, exploration and production of hydrocarbons
  • Greenhouse gas emission allowance trading scheme

AN INTERCONNECTED INTERNAL MARKET

  • Green Paper – Towards a secure, sustainable and competitive European energy network
  • Trans-European energy networks
  • Community financial aid to trans-European networks
  • Priority Interconnection Plan (PIP)
  • Conditions for access to the gas transmission networks
  • Conditions for access to the network for cross-border exchanges in electricity (up until March 2011)
  • Natural gas transmission networks (from 2011)
  • Cross-border exchanges in electricity (from 2011)
  • Smart Grids

PUBLIC PROCUREMENT

  • Public procurement in the water, energy, transport and postal services sectors
  • Remedies mechanisms: water, energy, transport and postal services sectors

TAXATION

  • Community framework for the taxation of energy products and electricity

Support to businesses

Support to businesses

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Support to businesses

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Enterprise > Business environment

Support to businesses

Enterprise Europe network

The Enterprise Europe Network offers information and tailored services to businesses, thus making a tangible contribution to promoting entrepreneurship and the growth of businesses in Europe.

The network, which is the widest in Europe in terms of its geographical coverage and the range of services offered, provides a ‘one-stop-shop’ for all the information which may be of use to European businesses. It is based on the proximity principle and the ‘no wrong door’ concept: in other words, businesses can contact any partner in the network, which will often be the nearest one, and be individually guided to the most appropriate service.

While the network is mainly targeted at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), larger companies may also receive assistance.

The services of the Enterprise Europe Network include:

  • facilitating access to funding by making businesses aware of the available opportunities;
  • providing information on the EU policies, programmes and legislation which are relevant to a particular business’s activities;
  • settling problems linked to Community standards and intellectual property rights;
  • helping businesses to identify trustworthy commercial partners;
  • encouraging businesses to become more innovative and helping them to participate in research programmes and form technological partnerships;
  • exchanging best practice;
  • visiting businesses to assess their needs;
  • promotional and information material.

The network operates as a ‘two-way street’, and the Commission uses the feedback regularly received to adapt its policies and initiatives to the needs of European businesses, particularly SMEs, without creating additional red tape.

The Enterprise Europe Network provides a local service throughout the EU and outside its borders thanks to the presence of more than 500 contact points.

The Enterprise Europe Network is a key element of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) and brings together the expertise of the former Euro Info Centres (EICs) and Innovation Relay Centres (IRCs).

Your Europe – Business

The ‘Your Europe – Business’ website offers European businesses more direct access to information of relevance to them, particularly by providing details on the provisions in force not only in the European Union but also in each of its Member States.

European portal for SMEs

The European portal for SMEs provides information on all the policies, legislation, programmes and initiatives of relevance to SMEs.

Solvit

SOLVIT is an on-line problem-solving network. Problems linked to the misapplication by the public authorities of EU internal market rules are solved in a pragmatic manner within ten weeks. Both businesses and European citizens can submit problems to the SOLVIT centres.

EURES – European employment services

EURES services are coordinated by the Commission and facilitate the free movement of workers within the European Economic Area (EEA). The network partners include public employment services, trade unions and employers’ organisations. The aims pursued by the EURES are:

  • to inform and advise potentially mobile workers on employment opportunities and living and working conditions in the EEA;
  • to help employers who wish to recruit workers from other countries;
  • to provide specific advice and vocational guidance to workers and employers in cross-border regions.

In addition to its mobility and employment website, EURES has more than 700 advisers throughout the EEA.

Environment and SMEs

The Environment & SMEs website provides information on the main environmental legislation, best practice, training opportunities, advice and toolkits to help SMEs to respect the environment and put in place sustainable activities. While large businesses have an obvious effect on the environment, the activities of SMEs also have a considerable impact.

The organizations for the promotion of energy technologies network (OPET)

The objective of OPET, a network created by the European Commission, is to promote the potential of new energy technologies and raise awareness of this issue among the public and, in particular, the business community. The network disseminates information on the latest developments, participates in knowledge-sharing and supports the marketing of new technologies. The network thus covers the building sector, renewable energy sources, co?generation, heating and cooling, hydrocarbons and placing on the market.

Intellectual property rights helpdesk

The Intellectual property rights helpdesk provides general information on these rights, how to protect one’s rights and the usefulness of so doing, and offers assistance on the problems which entrepreneurs can encounter in this area. The helpdesk is particularly aimed at entrepreneurs who participate, or wish to participate, in research and technological development projects.

European consumer centres network

The European consumer centres network is intended to assist European consumers in relation to questions or difficulties which may arise when they purchase goods or services in another Member State.