Cisco welcomes the European Commission’s new strategy released today on Shaping Europe’s Digital Future. The Commission’s focus on bringing digital into Europe’s mainstream economy and society is a powerful way to restore our global technological leadership and ensure the digital transformation is inclusive of all.

As we laid out in our new Annual Internet Report, Europe’s digitisation will accelerate during this Commission’s and Parliament’s term, with European countries even outpacing global growth. For instance, while globally half of all connections will be IoT in 2023, Italy, Spain, and France will be outpace that number at 69%, 62% and 61% respectively.

The digitisation spans all of society: home, work, as well as manufacturing and public sector. The connected home will represent half of IoT connections but connected car and smart city applications will grow the fastest. As such the consumer segment’s share of total devices will continue to make up the bulk of connections, at 74%, but it is growing at a slower rate, at 9.1% CAGR, relative to the business segment which will grow at 12% CAGR.

This data shows how right the Commission is in focusing its attention on the industrial applications of digital technologies, including the role of big data and AI. Not only does Europe have a lot of potential, in fact because of Europe’s strong industrial base, this data shows Europe is already more advanced than many other economies around the world.

This is not to say we should forget about the consumer protection questions that can arise from digitisation, and the Commission has already laid out its actions in this area in its new strategy. However, as the European Commission, Parliament and Member States begin to dive further into these issues and eventually start to legislate, it is crucial to remember the changing nature of digital infrastructures and applications and that these increasingly are becoming industrial resources. We need to ensure that our overall regulatory framework takes this into account in order that we can enable a differentiated approach, protecting consumers whilst ensuring regulation enables and promotes investments and permission-less innovation.

It is also important to bear in mind that network architectures are changing to accommodate an increasing demand and a more heterogenous demand. We applaud the Commission for recognising the fundamental role connectivity will play in digitisation and the ambition to become the best-connected continent in the world.

Cisco predicts that by 2023, 11% of mobile connections will be with 5G, with several EU countries above this global average e.g. Sweden at 18.9%, Germany at 18.4%, almost on pair with globally leading countries at just over 20%. 5G will undoubtedly bring enormous new capabilities to the network, beginning but not stopping with speeds 13 times higher the average mobile speed in 2023 (at 575Mbps) and will enable new applications and use cases current technologies cannot support.

However, we see both 5G and Wi-Fi 6 as foundational technologies to support digitisation with the new Wi-Fi 6 standard. By 2023, Wi-Fi 6 hotspots will grow 13-fold and make up 11% of public Wi-Fi hotspots.

We recognize that the Commission continues its work on its policy package to accelerate Europe’s Gigabit connectivity – particularly its new spectrum policy programme. As it does, we hope they bear in mind that a broad mix of wireless technologies will be used in Europe’s digitisation and that both licensed and unlicensed, as well as lightly licensed spectrum, needs to be made available. In the short-term we also continue to be thankful to the Commission for its support to finalise work to release the lower part of the 6GHz band for Wi-Fi.

We look forward to working with the Commission as well as Members of the European Parliament and Member state representatives to make Europe fit for the digital age. The next five years represent an enormous opportunity for Europe to turn digital to its advantage, building on its strong industrial base, creating the room to innovate, whilst protecting consumers and making sure digitisation brings benefits to the many.


Cate Nymann

Public Policy Manager

Government Affairs - Belgium