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Tracking mobile devices to fight coronavirus

20-04-2020

Governments around the world have turned to digital technologies to tackle the coronavirus crisis. One of the key measures has been to use mobile devices to monitor populations and track individuals who are infected or at risk. About half of the EU’s Member States have taken location-tracking measures in response to the spread of the coronavirus disease, mainly by working with telecommunications companies to map population movements using anonymised and aggregate location data and by developing applications ...

Governments around the world have turned to digital technologies to tackle the coronavirus crisis. One of the key measures has been to use mobile devices to monitor populations and track individuals who are infected or at risk. About half of the EU’s Member States have taken location-tracking measures in response to the spread of the coronavirus disease, mainly by working with telecommunications companies to map population movements using anonymised and aggregate location data and by developing applications (apps) for tracking people who are at risk. The European Commission has called for a common EU approach to the use of mobile apps and mobile data to assess social distancing measures, support contact-tracing efforts, and contribute to limiting the spread of the virus. While governments may be justified in limiting certain fundamental rights and freedoms in order to take effective steps to fight the epidemic, such exceptional and temporary measures need to comply with applicable fundamental rights standards and EU rules on data protection and privacy. This briefing discusses location-tracking measures using mobile devices in the context of the Covid 19 crisis. It describes initiatives in EU Member States and provides a brief analysis of fundamental rights standards and the EU policy framework, including applicable EU rules on data protection and privacy.

What if smartphones could help contain COVID-19?

24-03-2020

In recent years, smartphones have increasingly attracted attention as a key tools in emergency and disaster situations. Almost all smartphones are nowadays equipped with GPS sensors that can track the location of their owners. Comparing the location history of infected individuals with the location history of all other Smartphone users (tested positive or not yet tested) could help health authorities gain much better understanding of where the transmission might have occurred, and who else should ...

In recent years, smartphones have increasingly attracted attention as a key tools in emergency and disaster situations. Almost all smartphones are nowadays equipped with GPS sensors that can track the location of their owners. Comparing the location history of infected individuals with the location history of all other Smartphone users (tested positive or not yet tested) could help health authorities gain much better understanding of where the transmission might have occurred, and who else should be tested with urgency, avoiding the further spread of the infection.

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.

Autor externo

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

La revisión de los mercados nacionales de la itinerancia al por mayor y el Reglamento sobre itinerancia

31-05-2016

El Reglamento sobre itinerancia ha contribuido a los esfuerzos en curso para lograr un «continente conectado» y un mercado único digital a escala europea que funcione correctamente. Mediante distintas modificaciones del Reglamento original sobre itinerancia de 2007, la Comisión y los colegisladores han ido reduciendo gradualmente los sobrecostes ligados a hacer y recibir llamadas de voz, enviar y recibir mensajes de texto y usar datos en un teléfono móvil mientras se está en otro Estado miembro de ...

El Reglamento sobre itinerancia ha contribuido a los esfuerzos en curso para lograr un «continente conectado» y un mercado único digital a escala europea que funcione correctamente. Mediante distintas modificaciones del Reglamento original sobre itinerancia de 2007, la Comisión y los colegisladores han ido reduciendo gradualmente los sobrecostes ligados a hacer y recibir llamadas de voz, enviar y recibir mensajes de texto y usar datos en un teléfono móvil mientras se está en otro Estado miembro de la Unión. Los cálculos de la Comisión Europea indican que el ahorro total para los consumidores de la Unión entre 2009 y 2013 ascendió a 9 600 millones de euros. El 30 de abril de 2016 se empezó a aplicar en toda la Unión la reducción más reciente de las tarifas. El siguiente paso del proceso es la supresión programada de todas las tarifas de itinerancia al por menor a partir del 15 de junio de 2017. Sin embargo, antes de alcanzar este objetivo, hay varias cuestiones pendientes de resolver, en especial en lo referente a la situación de los mercados de itinerancia al por mayor. En efecto, a pesar de las modificaciones del Reglamento sobre itinerancia, la situación actual del mercado de las telecomunicaciones de la Unión está fragmentada y se necesitan varios ajustes antes de poder aplicar plenamente una política de itinerancia cero. Aunque la supresión de los sobrecostes al por menor hasta un límite de uso razonable permitiría a los clientes mantener sus patrones nacionales de uso del teléfono móvil en toda la Unión, es necesario encontrar el nivel adecuado para los límites máximos de la itinerancia al por mayor y adoptar posibles medidas de mitigación para que los operadores móviles puedan, entre otros aspectos, recuperar los costes. Como mostró la reciente consulta pública sobre los mercados nacionales de itinerancia al por mayor, sigue siendo complejo hallar una solución equilibrada. Los clientes de los mercados de origen y los mercados visitados, los operadores móviles, las ANR y las partes interesadas tienen intereses distintos que entran en conflicto. En concreto, existen divisiones entre los operadores más pequeños y los de mayor tamaño y entre los Estados miembros en función de si tienen un mayor tráfico de itinerancia entrante que saliente. Por último, pero no por ello menos importante, está la necesidad de reconciliar la protección de los intereses de los consumidores y la capacidad de los operadores para mantener su competitividad y su sostenibilidad.