Warsaw, 20th May 2020
THE PANDEMIC AS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR WIDESPREAD AND FAST INTERNET IN POLAND
The fundamental conclusions from the report published today by the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers are that, in order to develop the Internet infrastructure in Poland, we need stable regulations, a level playing field for all ecosystem participants, further flexibility of environmental and construction regulations, as well as financial stimuli encouraging investment in infrastructure.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected virtually all sectors of the economy and has already generated a number of contradictory diagnoses. One thing can be said for sure: it has sparked a dynamic increase in network traffic. In mere weeks, the vast majority of aspects of the functioning of many people has been transferred to the virtual world. Economic and social life never stopped, as Internet managed to multiply its traffic capabilities by several dozen percent. As part of the changes caused by the epidemic will be of a permanent character, the bandwidth of the mobile infrastructure is slowly becoming insufficient, similarly to the level of penetration of high-speed optical fibre in our country.
“We must consider this situation an opportunity, not at all a threat, and create the best Internet infrastructure in Europe, which will then become our competitive advantage. The pandemic showed us that without the Internet, the economy actually has no future,” says Cezary Kaźmierczak, President of the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers. “This predicament has a number of consequences. Unless we have a sufficiently efficient telecommunications infrastructure, we will be developing at a much slower pace than our potential would suggest. Unless the coverage of the country’s surface with this infrastructure is satisfactory, many people will become vulnerable to exclusion. Therefore, our basic postulate is as follows: let’s do our level best to provide Poles with a universal access to high-speed Internet.”
Our starting point for further infrastructure development is rather specific. On the one hand, we passed the exam related to the increase in network traffic with flying colours; on the other, in the ESMI ranking which analyses the society’s level of digitisation, Poland is systematically placed on one of the last slots in Europe. Access to fibre optic connections is improving, but is still deficient, while the record number of subscribers to mobile broadband services is depleting the capacity of existing infrastructure. Furthermore, Poland must efficiently implement the new mobile network standard, that is 5G, which will require additional infrastructure expenditure. Consequently, the Union’s experts prepared a set of recommendations for the development of the telecommunications infrastructure in Poland.
“We presented a number of recommendations specific to the telecommunications infrastructure in our report, but as to their essence, they do not differ from general recommendations for stimulating investment,” claims Jakub Bińkowski, Director of the Union’s Department of Law and Legislation. “Therefore, they basically boil down to securing competitiveness within the market, ensuring basic predictability of regulations, simplifying and making procedures more flexible, as well as making a financial effort as an impulse for new investments.”
The experts of the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers emphasise that in recent years a number of activities to develop the Polish infrastructure has already been undertaken, for instance, as part of the “mega-act” or from mobilising funds from the Operational Program “Polska Cyfrowa”, which stands for ‘Digital Poland’. Nevertheless from the point of view of the scale of the challenge facing Poland, additional efforts are necessary.
“We were the first to call for the exemption of the SME sector from Social Insurance Institution premiums, we were also the first to demand liquidity substitution for Polish companies and later to restart economic activity. Now we are the first to call for reconstruction of the economy and taking advantage of the crisis as an opportunity to make a civilisation leap,” concluded Cezary Kaźmierczak. “The Internet is a key instrument in this respect.”
The Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers announced that in the foreseeable future, the organisation will publish a report on how to utilise the infrastructure at hand in both the public and private sectors.
The project was prepared by the following Consortium:
- Andrzej Arendarski, Polish Chamber of Commerce (Krajowa Izba Gospodarcza)
- Maciej Bukowski, WISE Europa Institute
- Cezary Kaźmierczak, Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers (Związek Przedsiębiorców i Pracodawców)
- Agnieszka Plencler, Consumers Forum Foundation (Fundacja Forum Konsumentów)
- Bartłomiej Radziejewski, New Confederation (Nowa Konfederacja)
- Marcin Roszkowski, Jagiellonian Institute (Instytut Jagielloński)
- Marzena Rudnicka, National Institute of Senior Economy (Krajowy Instytut Gospodarki Senioralnej)
- Andrzej Sadowski, Adam Smith Research Center (Centrum im. Adama Smitha)
- Tomasz Wróblewski, Warsaw Enterprise Institute