Is Europe Throttling Smartphones And Wireless Technology?

If Europe wants to maintain wireless data speeds similar to those in the United States, the continent needs to completely revamp its entire regulatory framework governing telecommunication providers.

Multiple CEOs running European-based telecom companies have spoken out against the European Union's strict regulatory practices, saying they are throttling the industry's growth and slowing down the spread of high-speed data access.

During the 2013 Mobile World Congress, France Telecom-Orange CEO Stephane Richard lashed out at the EU's regulations, saying that the distribution of high-speed broadband connections and 4G networks can only be successful if regulations are lifted.

The continent has more than 140 phone carriers, which easily dwarfs the four main operators in the U.S. but makes it harder to spread new technology across member states.

"Regulation in the past 15 years has led towards a single purpose," said Richard to CNBC, "which is to provide a short-term benefit for the consumer. That's it. Today, this continent realizes that the industry is weak, that the main operators are in weak positions, the markets don't like them, and they are still indebted."

"At the same time we need a lot of money and resources to provide connectivity to Europe. Everyone wants Europe to be a connected-continent for the future," he said.

Already, 37 carriers represented by the European Telecommunications Network Operator's Association have asked the European Commission to allow for more mergers.

"They [regulators] should be sensible in the way they are selling spectrum," Richard said. "They should be sensible in the way they levy taxes. They should provide incentives and plans in order to help the industry to invest in the network. Now, we have to think in terms of financing investments in the networks in a joint initiative by private operators and governments."

Ren Obermann, the CEO of Deutsche Telekom, made comments similar to his French counterpart, though he sounded more optimistic that regulators would be more flexible in the future. He said the new European Commissioner for Digital Agenda has a "good agenda" to implement, and that hopefully it will take effect on a national scale soon. 

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