Europe needs to strengthen and leverage its unique and highly successful collaborative open standardisation model. This will enable European innovators to continue leading the way in next generation technologies and in key areas such as 5G and IoT, providing fair access and fair rewards for all, enabling a growing ecosystem of stakeholders, including many SMEs.
Europe’s inventors can play a central role in the development of mobile technologies like 5G—in which Europe leads the way—because their inventions are protected by Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). By contributing cutting-edge technologies to open standards, European innovators are creating a global ecosystem that fosters interconnectivity and competition, and enables companies large and small to participate. Consumers benefit from constantly improved performance, choice and lower prices.
Today, this ecosystem is at risk. Encouraged by the activities of some large corporates, many leading manufacturers of connected devices do not take licences for the standardised patented technologies they use. This denies European developers a fair return on their IP and investments, endangering the incentive to invest in 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT), and could force European innovators to abandon the development of open standards for connectivity as they fail to recoup years of high-risk investments.
For instance, Europe is ideally positioned to be the world leader in connected autonomous vehicles. However, with 5G and IoT tech increasingly used, many automotive manufacturers refuse to take a licence of only US $15 per car (for the vast majority of all cellular technologies needed for connected cars)—and then charge consumers thousands of euros for features enabled by cellular connectivity.
The threat to the European model is exacerbated by a growing systemic imbalance in key standards development organisations (SDOs) such as ETSI, where implementers of standards now largely outnumber and out-vote those who make most of the technical contributions to the standards.
Left unchecked, this situation will benefit only a handful of global companies whose business models are based either on the exclusive use of proprietary technology or on the monetisation of data, and will have severe long-term implications for EU jobs, innovation and growth, harming European consumers.
What EU institutions need to do:
Promote and champion Europe’s collaborative open standardisation model that provides fair access and fair rewards for all. This is critical to safeguard European leadership in 5G and IoT technologies.
Champion the European Open Standards ModelEurope’s successful open standardisation model, rewards investment in innovation, ensures access to best-in-class open technologies for all, and underpins a healthy open technology ecosystem.
Promote industry licensing guidelines for new market entrantsPromote fact-based industry guidelines to make the SEP licensing process more understandable for all, particularly new market entrants and SMEs. Such guidelines are already documented in the CENELEC Workshop Agreement developed through AFNOR .
Find balance between the few technology contributors and the many implementersEnsure that European Standardisation Organisation (ESO) rules maintain an appropriate balance between the various categories of stakeholders represented in the standards development process. The right balance will ensure the continued contribution of cutting-edge technology to standards by a relatively small group, building new standards and enabling their broad commercial deployment through product development.