For humans today, 20 years is a very young age. In the fast-changing ICT sector, however, 20 years is a long time in which fundamental technological changes with deep socio-economic impact can happen.
The past 20 years have been the most dramatic in the field of personal communications, particularly due to the rise of the Internet. Never before in the history of the planet has so much information been available to so many people. This communications era is being pushed by young Internet companies like Google (age: 12) and Facebook (age: 7).
However, some parts of the revolution we see today have come from the traditional communications providers, and Eurescom had its share in facilitating this. As Eurescom celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2011, the company can look back on two decades of stimulating and facilitating technological progress in the European telecoms sector.
The beginnings of Eurescom
On 14 March 1991, Eurescom was founded by 20 major European telecoms network operators in Heidelberg, Germany. In the new context of liberalised telecoms markets, leading European telcos saw the need to explore technological challenges and opportunities of common interest via a joint organisation. Eurescom became the initiator, knowledge exchange platform and project management organisation for hundreds of projects that helped telecoms operators keep pace with the technological development.
David Kennedy, director of Eurescom (right), discussing the future of the Internet with Josť Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission.
Hot topics in the early days were interoperable European ISDN, ATM broadband solutions, new service areas, standards for DECT, and the design of network management systems. Later, the development of new services and applications for mobile and fixed networks as well as specifications in the Internet domain were added to Eurescom’s fast-growing project portfolio.
Expanded scope after 2001
The bursting of the Internet bubble in 2001 changed the landscape for Eurescom. Its economically hard-hit member companies in the telecoms sector cut their research budgets for collaborative R&D. In turn, they encouraged Eurescom to diversify its activities into professional project and programme management in the open market. Since 2002, Eurescom has been an active player in the European Union’s Framework Programmes, and in 2003, Eurescom was part of a core group initiating the first EUREKA Cluster on telecommunications called Celtic, this year succeeded by Celtic-Plus.
With the expertise of its multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary staff, Eurescom also has supported other R&D initiatives through its comprehensive management services and tools, for example the Wireless World Research Forum (WWRF), the Digital Media Project (DMP), and the recently founded Eureka Cluster for water management, ACQUEAU.
Since the early work of drafting the Bled Declaration on a European approach to the Future Internet in 2008, Eurescom has been a driver of the Future Internet initiative leading to the formation of the Future Internet Public Private Partnership. This FI-PPP is now being implemented as a dedicated sub-programme under the EC’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).
Although comparatively old at age 20 in Internet-industry terms, Eurescom has managed to adapt its business model and service offerings to the fast-changing challenges and opportunities. The company maintains core principles of delivering high value collaboration for innovation and understands well the importance of effective management for the success of innovative projects. Both skills – clever collaboration and management excellence – will be needed more than ever, in order to help private and public European ICT players explore and exploit the technological opportunities for the next 20 years and, thus, Eurescom plans a lot of interesting projects and initiatives to help its customers stay globally competitive.