Want to build tomorrow’s Internet? – Neelie Kroes speech at FIA Athens 2014

Mar 20, 2014Ecosystem

Neelie KroesHello to you all.  And welcome to this conference on the potential of tomorrow's Internet.  Here in Greece, a country that has seen the real, human consequences of the crisis. A country that stands to gain so much if we become a connected, competitive continent. Last time I was here I saw such a vibrant startup scene. I saw so many entrepreneurs with energy and enthusiasm. Using digital tools to create, innovate, and make a difference. 

Today's Internet has already transformed so much of our world. And it is developing fast.  Yet already, you can look ahead to some of tomorrow's changes – the shape of the Future internet (…)  Stepping onto the scene are four main characters. The Cloud, Big Data, the Internet of Things, and fast networking. The John, Paul, George and Ringo of a new online paradigm

They are not just developing fast. They are converging, supporting and reinforcing one another.  And benefiting our economy: cloud computing alone could be almost one trillion euros by 2020. And indeed, later this week we will publish a vision for a Trusted Cloud for Europe.

Further in the future, we could have more innovations. Like advanced networking, or 5G.  Because even as we roll out today's networks, we should be looking to the next step. Not as an alternative to investing in 4G – but a way to make that investment repay far into the future.  And we should work together as Europe, and with other parts of the world too, on a common approach and for a common scope.  All around you today, you can see some of the great innovations on offer. I hope you've been exploring, and will do later too!

All together that could mean a world that is fully connected. Seamless networks, merging fixed and mobile. Virtual networks defined by software. Connected devices that talk directly to each other. Constant connectivity for every European, everyone able to stay informed and empowered instantly, anytime, anywhere. Downloading and uploading from their locker in the cloud.  Never forget what this change can mean for our economy. Never forget what this change can mean for the people of Europe – for every European. And what's the most important ingredient for our future internet? It isn't the gadgets and tools you see out there in the exhibition hall.  It's you – right here in this room. 

We, and our whole Future Internet programme, are here to support you. With the three P's. With partnerships. Our public private partnership on the Future internet is already up and running. With a lab offering building blocks for you to use.  

The entrepreneurs and startups, businesses and researchers, engineers and academics. You are the ones who can identify the problems we face, design the solutions to meet them, test and validate them, and ensure they become a viable reality. We, and our whole Future Internet programme, are here to support you. With the three P's. With partnerships. Our public private partnership on the Future internet is already up and running. With a lab offering building blocks for you to use.  And we've set up a new partnership for 5G, too. 700 million euros in EU funding, complemented by private funding —all together worth 3 billion. 

With platforms. Places to safely experiment and try out new ideas. Giving you important resources: like access to the spectrum you need to test out innovations like cognitive radio. And with prizes. For the best ideas that use our building blocks. We've already had contests in the areas of smart cities, smart businesses, smart society, and other excellent ideas.  All together a prize fund worth over €800,000, as part of our Future Internet PPP. 

You can see how they're helping improve our world. Like the FI-Guardian app, to warn people if a natural disaster is about to strike. A great idea: it took first prize in the Smart Cities category, last month at Campus Party Brazil.  Now we are moving into the next phase of that Future Internet Public-Private Partnership. We are putting 100 million euros on the table — to help around 1000 small businesses and startups develop apps and services. 

And we've picked 16 consortia to act as "accelerators" for that. Including FRACTALS – focusing on small agriculture businesses in the Balkan region – including right here in Greece. So if you have ideas for how to use this technology: then send in your ideas, find new partners, and build a better internet.  But most of all, I want this Future internet to have the right conditions. The market and the networks that lets innovations thrive.  Ideas like cloud computing or big data need economies of scale: a market big enough to make innovations worthwhile. Borders online don't make sense; even less so for the Future Internet. And your mobile needs to be mobile, not permanently switched off whenever you travel. It's time all these things benefited from the single market boost. 

How can you profit from the cloud or big data if they're stuck in one country? Condemned by national rules and constrained to national borders? How can Europeans enjoy constant connectivity, if weak investment means half of homes do not have fast broadband coverage?  How can you have a genuinely seamless network – if quality, secure connections cannot cross borders?  

Why oblige and constrain operators to work nationally, and suffer the inefficiencies and border checkpoints that result? For a future where software defined networking and virtualisation could make that totally redundant and unnecessary? How can Europeans enjoy the innovations of the amazing open Internet, as long as operators can decide to block or throttle services? 

There are new connected devices on the horizon – like vehicles that talk to each other and warn about road conditions. Will those devices really have to cope with 28 different spectrum systems? And will they really have to pay roaming charges? 

The fact is, we cannot support tomorrow's Internet with yesterday's framework. There is no excuse for those borders online. That no longer makes sense, not today, certainly not tomorrow. 

You're probably all tired of visiting conferences where the whole room struggles and squabbles to share the same weak WiFi. Where everyone is terrified of switching to mobile data – in case your roaming bill ends up costing more than your flight.  Time that changed. Time to face the 21st century. 

Today, MEPs voted to ensure that. And I welcome that big step forward. If you agree with me — that we must ensure a better Internet, built on a framework fit for the future — then make sure your national government and your elected representatives are on board.  So I hope you all make the most of your stay here in Athens. And remember: in parallel to this conference is the Future Internet Exhibition. EU-funded projects on the Future Internet are showcasing their achievements and their impact.

Future Internet Assembly

So take a look. Get inspired. Talk to our experts. Enjoy, explore, experiment. Take the building blocks you see here, combine them, add to them, and create new innovations for a new Europe. Figure out problems and come up with solutions. And together – help us create a better Internet, for our connected continent. 

Thank you. 

Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda 

Future Internet Assembly. Athens, 18 March 2014

Source: Europa Press Release Database

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