Telcos in Europe are well-positioned to deliver three strategic areas that could deliver €4 billion in digital value per day, a new report has claimed.

The “Lead or lose – a vision for Europe’s digital future” report by Accenture Strategy for ETNO said telcos from the continent had lost as much as €100 million in earnings each day to “digital disruptors” and telcos in other regions over the past 10 years.

As a result Europe “urgently needs to make its mark on the economic map”, the report said.

Up to €4 billion per day could be created by a continent-wide digital transformation that delivers both societal value, such as improved health and job creation, and business value, including quality improvements and efficiency gains.

The report outlined three key areas that should form the basis of this transformation: an ecosystem based around the Internet of Everything; software-defined, ubiquitous, low-latency, self-provisioning, self-optimising and self-healing networks enabled by analytics; and embedding the likes of digital ID, transaction security, and transparency and control over the use of personal data into European institutions.

Telcos are well-positioned to deliver these foundational capabilities, according to the report, but they need to cooperate more closely with each other and other industry players to give them the scale required to succeed.

Noting that “urgent and decisive” policy action from EU institutions and national governments was needed to support this, the report cited seven initiatives that telcos should focus on.

These included the creation of platforms for health data, smart cities and SMEs, connected public buildings, digital transport nodes and consumer identities, plus a cross-industry think-tank on artificial intelligence.

The report featured interviews with 13 network operator CEOs, as well as governments and academics.

BT Chief Executive Gavin Patterson said: “All European telcos and even the US players are sub-scale compared to the platform players.

“It would be good to develop a common ecosystem.

“But it is challenging if there is a dominant party that wants to own it or has their own view on the degree of openness.”

Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao commented: “Policy makers need to make institutions fit for the digital age.

“To get there, Europe could put telcos at the centre of this digital development and make them guardians of our data privacy and operators of digital identities.”

KPN Chief Executive Eelco Blok added: “Industry, government and telcos need to collaborate to create the digital society.

“But to win, we need to forget the idea that 27 agendas need to be aligned to move ahead.”

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