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Internet of Things: Fast forward to the future

The value that IoT could bring to Europe is well recognised – from exponential GDP growth and machine-generated non-personal IoT data to improved lives through smart applications. If the regulatory landscape is right, realising these benefits could transform Europe’s standing in terms of global competitiveness and 5G connectivity.

Vodafone has carried out a multi-sectorial regulatory assessment of IoT applications in Europe, finding that the absence of an IoT-designed framework can significantly impact its potential. This analysis indicates there is uncertainty on how rules are to be applied to IoT, as well as a fragmented application across Members States and a risk of a non-technology neutral approach. Furthermore, there are important pro-active measures that Europe can take to increase its competitiveness in relation to IoT.

Given this assessment, and further to recent IoT studies from BEREC and the OECD, on 29 April 2019 Vodafone organised a multi-sector conference in Brussels involving the European Commission, BEREC, the OECD and industry to discuss the best way forward.

By openly exchanging about the challenges that agriculture, aerospace, automotive, smart energy and connected healthcare companies are facing, we hope to contribute to the development of new, harmonised regulatory framework to help bring the Internet of Things: fast forward to the future.

All stakeholders agreed that this is a crucial moment to be having these discussions, just ahead of the European elections and before a new College of Commissioners is appointed. A number of other observations were made during the event, for example that:

  • We need to get this right because of the transformative power of IoT, which could bring with it enormous social and environmental benefits;
  • The need for greater regulatory coordination on IoT is great, given the pace of innovation;
  • Cross sectoral coordination is key – cooperation across the healthcare, energy, agriculture and automotive sectors will be the future of innovation, and
  • In the past there have been two regulatory approaches – one regulating telecommunications and others regulating industrial sectors – in the future we will need an innovative cross-sector regulatory approach to develop IoT.

Stakeholders at the event spoke about the challenges they face as individual sectors, with the need for common standards and data sharing agreements to allow companies to develop new IoT applications.

A video with contributions from a number of the stakeholders that participated in the event can be found below.  


Vodafone has now issued a White Paper following this event, which sets out a proposal for a new IoT regulatory framework, drawing on its own analysis and reflecting on the important contributions that have been made from a range of different stakeholders. This White Paper can be found here.