“Anticipating the Future: How Can Wi-Fi Contribute to the EU Digital Decade”

By Bianca Manelli

On Wednesday, October 13th, SME Europe organized a webinar titled “Anticipating the Future: How Can Wi-Fi Contribute to the EU Digital Decade” to explore how to work together towards the establishment of the required spectrum for the 2030 Gigabit society.

Hosted by Ivan Stefanec MEP, IMCO, ITRE and AIDA Committees, President SME Europe of the EPP, and moderated by Dr. Michal Boni, First Minister of Digital Affairs of Poland 2011-2013, MEP 2014-2019 and Senator SME Europe of the EPP, the webinar saw a high-level expert panel comprised of Claus Hetting, Chairman and CEO, Wi-FI Now; Aurélie Bladocha-Coelho, Director Communications and Public Affairs, FTTH Council; Paulo Valente, Tech Policy Expert, European DIGITAL SME Alliance; and Benedikt Blomeyer, Director EU Policy, Allied for Startups.

Ivan Stefanec MEP opened the floor by sketching the three main challenges: infrastructure, digital skills and digital legislation. Fortunately, the European Parliament too recognizes digital technologies, including Wi-Fi, as a key factor in sustaining the growth of SMEs and set out ambitious targets to be reached within 10 years: more than 90% of SMEs should reach a basic level of digitalization.

Claus Hetting emphasised that Wi-Fi is the driver of the digital economy and, thus for SME growth: its advantages lie in the unlicenced technology, very low costs infrastructure and the sharing capability. Similarly, later on during the panel, Benedikt Blomeyer echoed this sentiment by stating that start-ups not only need as many connectivity solutions as possible, but that those also need to be cost-effective to avoid being barriers to market entrance

Aurélie Bladocha-Coelho presented the added value of fibre for a digital and sustainable Europe as complementary to 5G and Wi-Fi in order to achieve digitalization and the Green Deal’s objectives. Additionally, she favourably acknowledged the legal context brought by the European Electronic Communication Code, the path to the Digital Decade – which has set very clear targets for 2030 – and the Recovery and Resilience Facility. 

Represented by Paulo Valente, European DIGITAL SME Alliance’s manifesto for Europe Digital Future includes connectivity as a policy priority. All European digital SMEs would benefit from an inclusive ecosystem that enables all integrate technologies, as they are both users and providers of technology as well as innovation, hence Wi-Fi which is a key element. He also remarked the importance of adopting no lock-in solutions; policymakers should focus on protecting SMEs from having less options than others in different parts of the world.