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Mobile phones and health: Where do we stand?

20-03-2019

Mobile phones are an integral part of everyday life, and it is hard to imagine a world without them. There are nevertheless health concerns, and the debate is ongoing. There is a vast body of research on the potential risks from exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields such as those emitted by mobile phones. Yet scientific opinion remains split over the possibility of a link between mobile phone radiation and health problems. The results of research in this area have been interpreted in ...

Mobile phones are an integral part of everyday life, and it is hard to imagine a world without them. There are nevertheless health concerns, and the debate is ongoing. There is a vast body of research on the potential risks from exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields such as those emitted by mobile phones. Yet scientific opinion remains split over the possibility of a link between mobile phone radiation and health problems. The results of research in this area have been interpreted in a variety of ways, and studies have been criticised for their methodological flaws, lack of statistical significance, and bias. In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the World Health Organization, classified radiofrequency electromagnet fields as possibly carcinogenic (cancer-causing) to humans. The European Union defined basic restrictions for limiting exposure to electromagnetic fields in Council Recommendation 1999/519/EC, setting maximum values that should not to be exceeded. Moreover, in view of the scientific uncertainty, the European Environment Agency advises taking a precautionary approach. Two sets of large-scale experimental studies involving laboratory animals, one from the United States National Toxicology Program and another from the Italian Ramazzini Institute, have recently brought the debate to the fore again. Both found varying levels of evidence of certain tumours in some of the animals tested. The results have nevertheless prompted diverging conclusions.

Roaming: One Year After Implementation

12-11-2018

This in-depth analysis was prepared by Policy Department A at the request of the ITRE Committee. It examines the impacts one year after implementation of the EU’s Roaming Regulation that introduced Roam Like at Home (RLAH), by reviewing both the retail and wholesale markets. The retail roaming market was found to be performing well for most stakeholders. However, in the wholesale market, adjusting the wholesale price cap is necessary so that MVNOs may compete more effectively.

This in-depth analysis was prepared by Policy Department A at the request of the ITRE Committee. It examines the impacts one year after implementation of the EU’s Roaming Regulation that introduced Roam Like at Home (RLAH), by reviewing both the retail and wholesale markets. The retail roaming market was found to be performing well for most stakeholders. However, in the wholesale market, adjusting the wholesale price cap is necessary so that MVNOs may compete more effectively.

EU abolishes mobile roaming charges

14-06-2017

Almost all EU residents own a mobile phone for their personal or professional use. When they travel to another EU country and use it to call, text or go online, they used to have to pay additional costs (roaming charges). This situation, which made travel within the EU more complicated and expensive for consumers and businesses, has come to an end: the latest EU Roaming Regulation abolished the extra costs on 15 June 2017. Since then, 'roam like at home' (RLAH) has become a reality for all Europeans ...

Almost all EU residents own a mobile phone for their personal or professional use. When they travel to another EU country and use it to call, text or go online, they used to have to pay additional costs (roaming charges). This situation, which made travel within the EU more complicated and expensive for consumers and businesses, has come to an end: the latest EU Roaming Regulation abolished the extra costs on 15 June 2017. Since then, 'roam like at home' (RLAH) has become a reality for all Europeans. The new roaming-free zone covers not only the EU, but the whole of the European Economic Area (EEA), which includes the EU and three European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries: Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Towards a European gigabit society: Connectivity targets and 5G

09-06-2017

In September 2016, the Commission put forward new strategic connectivity objectives for 2025 as part of its digital single market strategy. These should prepare Europe for the roll-out of the next generation of broadband infrastructure with gigabit speeds, including both fixed and mobile internet access (5G). Once available, from 2020 onwards, 5G is expected to enable an array of new innovative services that will transform sectors such as manufacturing, energy, vehicle manufacturing and health, bringing ...

In September 2016, the Commission put forward new strategic connectivity objectives for 2025 as part of its digital single market strategy. These should prepare Europe for the roll-out of the next generation of broadband infrastructure with gigabit speeds, including both fixed and mobile internet access (5G). Once available, from 2020 onwards, 5G is expected to enable an array of new innovative services that will transform sectors such as manufacturing, energy, vehicle manufacturing and health, bringing them into the era of the internet of things. Given its importance for EU competitiveness, the Commission is speeding up 5G by co-financing research and development. The 5G-PPP public-private partnership is the largest initiative of its kind in the world, with €700 million in EU funding, to be topped up with private funding to reach a total budget of €3.5 billion by 2025. There is some concern that not all consumers and businesses in Europe will benefit from the gigabit society, given the current and future digital divide between urban and rural areas and across EU countries. For example if gigabit speeds and 5G are available only to areas with high demand, users are likely to be highly reluctant to pay for it as many new services will need continuity across borders and geographic areas. Progress in building the European gigabit society is expected once an updated EU telecoms framework is in place. This will enable high levels of investment in network infrastructure and increased policy coordination across Member States, for instance increasing spectrum harmonisation for 5G and co-investment of deployments. Both the proposed European Electronic Communications Code and the 5G action plan are of high importance for the Council and Parliament, and essential if the EU is to take the lead in the global 5G race.

Wholesale roaming regulation: A precondition for 'roam like at home'

06-12-2016

In 2015 the Council and European Parliament agreed in Regulation 2015/2120 that on 15 June 2017 roaming charges for mobile phone use would be abolished in the EU. After that date, 'roam like at home' (RLAH) would become a reality for all Europeans. The regulation did not, however, address the wholesale roaming market, on account of the need to investigate market conditions in more depth. A review for the European Commission concluded that national wholesale roaming markets are not working well and ...

In 2015 the Council and European Parliament agreed in Regulation 2015/2120 that on 15 June 2017 roaming charges for mobile phone use would be abolished in the EU. After that date, 'roam like at home' (RLAH) would become a reality for all Europeans. The regulation did not, however, address the wholesale roaming market, on account of the need to investigate market conditions in more depth. A review for the European Commission concluded that national wholesale roaming markets are not working well and need regulatory intervention. It therefore proposed a regulation establishing the maximum level of wholesale roaming charges that telecoms operators can charge each other, to take effect from 15 June 2017. Stakeholder reactions are divided: while consumers would enjoy free roaming, operators are worried about recovering costs at wholesale level. On 29 November, Parliament's Industry Committee voted for a reduction in the call and data wholesale caps proposed by the Commission. A more recent edition of this document is available. Find it by searching by the document title at this address: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/thinktank/en/home.html

European Leadership in 5G

15-11-2016

Prepared by Policy Department A at the request of the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE), this report examines the concept for 5G, how it might fit in the future telecommunications landscape, the state of play in R&D in the EU and globally, the possible business models and the role of standards and spectrum policy, to assess the EU’s strategic position.

Prepared by Policy Department A at the request of the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE), this report examines the concept for 5G, how it might fit in the future telecommunications landscape, the state of play in R&D in the EU and globally, the possible business models and the role of standards and spectrum policy, to assess the EU’s strategic position.

Ārējais autors

Colin BLACKMAN (Camford Associates Ltd ; CEPS) and Simon FORGE (SCF Associates Ltd.)

The review of national wholesale roaming markets and the Roaming Regulation

31-05-2016

The Roaming Regulation has contributed to ongoing efforts to achieve a Connected Continent and a well-functioning EU Digital Single Market. Through various amendments to the initial 2007 Roaming Regulation, the Commission and co-legislators have gradually reduced surcharges for making and receiving voice calls, sending and receiving SMS messages and using data on a mobile phone while in another EU Member State. European Commission estimates indicate that total savings for EU consumers between 2009 ...

The Roaming Regulation has contributed to ongoing efforts to achieve a Connected Continent and a well-functioning EU Digital Single Market. Through various amendments to the initial 2007 Roaming Regulation, the Commission and co-legislators have gradually reduced surcharges for making and receiving voice calls, sending and receiving SMS messages and using data on a mobile phone while in another EU Member State. European Commission estimates indicate that total savings for EU consumers between 2009 and 2013 amounted to €9.6 billion. On 30 April 2016, the latest reduction in charges became applicable throughout the EU. The next step in the process is the planned abolition of all retail roaming surcharges as of 15 June 2017. Yet, to achieve this goal several questions remain open, in particular as regards the status of wholesale roaming markets. Indeed, despite amendments to the Roaming Regulation, the current state of the EU telecoms market is fragmented and several adjustments are needed before a roaming-free policy can be fully implemented. While the abolition of retail surcharges up to a fair use limit would allow customers to replicate their domestic mobile usage patterns across the EU, the appropriate level of wholesale roaming caps needs to be found and possible mitigating measures adopted for mobile operators inter alia to recover costs. As the recent public consultation on national wholesale roaming markets has shown, finding a balanced solution remains complex. Customers from home and visited markets, mobile operators, NRAs and stakeholders have various conflicting interests. In particular, divisions exist between small and large operators, and between Member States depending on whether they have higher inbound than outbound roaming traffic. Last but not least is the need to reconcile the protection of consumer interests with operators’ abilities to remain competitive and sustainable.

Planned obsolescence: Exploring the issue

02-05-2016

Although no overarching definition of planned obsolescence exists, the term 'planned obsolescence' (of products or technology) is described as the intentional production of goods and services with short economic lives, stimulating consumers to repeat purchases too frequently. The incandescent light bulb with an engineered shorter lifespan (the Phoebus cartel case) is one example from the past of proven planned obsolescence. Data suggest that the median lifespans of certain categories of product have ...

Although no overarching definition of planned obsolescence exists, the term 'planned obsolescence' (of products or technology) is described as the intentional production of goods and services with short economic lives, stimulating consumers to repeat purchases too frequently. The incandescent light bulb with an engineered shorter lifespan (the Phoebus cartel case) is one example from the past of proven planned obsolescence. Data suggest that the median lifespans of certain categories of product have been shortening, and consumer organisations have drawn attention to more recent suspected cases of planned obsolescence in connection with washing machines, inkjet cartridges, electronic devices, etc. One Member State – France – recently introduced a definition of planned obsolescence into its legislation, making it a punishable offence. No specific EU rules mention planned obsolescence, but the subject ties in with EU legislation on ecodesign, waste, use of natural resources, consumer information and the new package from the European Commission on the circular economy. The main consumer concerns and problematic strategies associated with the issue are: design features that do not allow repair, upgradability or interoperability with other devices; the unavailability of spare parts and high repair costs; and marketing strategies pushing consumers to buy new, fashionable products and replace existing ones very quickly. Various ways to curb the practice of planned obsolescence have been proposed, not least a shift towards a culture that values product durability and sustainability.

Digital development in Sub-Saharan Africa

16-11-2015

In the past decade, the use of information and communication technologies (ICT), especially of mobile communications, has increased exponentially in Sub-Saharan Africa. It has become common to talk of a 'mobile revolution' sweeping the region, with mobile phone use spreading quickly, geographically and socially, accompanied by novel applications, impacting on other areas of economic life. The internet still has to catch up with the mobile sector, but there are encouraging signs that it will do so ...

In the past decade, the use of information and communication technologies (ICT), especially of mobile communications, has increased exponentially in Sub-Saharan Africa. It has become common to talk of a 'mobile revolution' sweeping the region, with mobile phone use spreading quickly, geographically and socially, accompanied by novel applications, impacting on other areas of economic life. The internet still has to catch up with the mobile sector, but there are encouraging signs that it will do so. Building the necessary connection infrastructure has considerably advanced, and digital devices are becoming more affordable. However, general literacy and digital skills across the population need to be improved in order for African countries to fully reap the benefits of the digitalisation, and this is a more difficult challenge to tackle. ICT is having an impact on many sectors of the economy, from access to basic amenities like electricity supply and clean water, to financial transactions. It has been a major driver of economic growth and an important contributor to public budgets. A number of digital applications adapted to specific local conditions have been developed in sectors such as agriculture, education, health, and democratic governance. The potential uses of ICT in such sectors promise a transformative impact on economic, social and political life, spurring development in numerous areas. If current trends continue, more and more people will see their life touched by these new technologies. It is also important to remain aware of the potential limitations of the new technologies, which cannot fully substitute, for example, for other major drivers of economic growth, or for real teachers and schools. Digital communications can be used to improve governance, but may also stoke conflict and violence in the absence of appropriate checks. ICT tools can increase public transparency, but cannot on their own eliminate corruption.

European single market for electronic communications

20-10-2015

The 'Connected Continent' proposal for a single telecoms market, presented in September 2013 by the European Commission, aimed to tackle existing bottlenecks hindering the development of the Digital Single Market (DSM). Progress on two of its elements – an end to roaming charges and EU wide rules on net neutrality – has been achieved, and the compromise agreed in trilogue on these points will be voted during the October III Plenary.

The 'Connected Continent' proposal for a single telecoms market, presented in September 2013 by the European Commission, aimed to tackle existing bottlenecks hindering the development of the Digital Single Market (DSM). Progress on two of its elements – an end to roaming charges and EU wide rules on net neutrality – has been achieved, and the compromise agreed in trilogue on these points will be voted during the October III Plenary.

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