European Commission says member states need to double down on 5G rollout

Stats from the DESI 2022 report

The European Commission has stated that member states are advancing in their digitalization, but there are still gaps that need filling. One of the gaps is deployment of 5G infrastructure. It’s important that this piece of technology, in particular, is fully deployed because many innovative services and applications rely on it. Other gaps include a lack of digital skills, and low adoption of “key digital technologies” like AI and Big Data.

Speaking about the findings of the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) 2022 report, Executive Vice-President for Europe Fit for the Digital Age, Margrethe Vestager, said:

“Digital transition is accelerating. Most Member States are progressing in building resilient digital societies and economies. Since the start of the pandemic we have made significant efforts to support Member States in the transition. Be that through the Recovery and Resilience Plans, EU Budget or, more recently also through the Structured Dialogue on Digital Education and Skills. Because we need to make the most of the investments and reforms necessary to meet the Digital Decade targets in 2030. So change must happen already now.”

The report found that Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden had made the most progress, but even those places were seeing a slow uptake of AI and Big Data in businesses and a skill shortage. The lack of digital skills among some sections of society is actually pretty troubling because it leads to digital exclusion, which will lock them out of more and more things as more services become digital-first.

The countries that were lagging behind the most were Poland, Greece, Bulgaria, and Romania. While still in the bottom four, both Poland and Greece have significantly improved their DESI scores over the last five years. As for Bulgaria and Romania, they are newer member states, only joining in 2007 so as time goes on they should catch up to the EU average.

The Commission said that just 56% of the total 5G harmonized spectrum has been assigned in most member state countries, except for Poland and Estonia. It said that completing the assignment of 5G spectrum was a prerequisite for fully deploying 5G, so countries should focus on this to speed things along a bit.

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