LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 EUROPE, BRUSSELS: More than 30 per cent of Europe’s mobile connections will be running on 5G networks by 2025, according to a new GSMA study.

The industry body’s latest Mobile Economy report forecasts there will be 214 million 5G connections in Europe by 2025, which would mark the region as one of the largest 5G markets in the world (second only to Asia Pacific).

The first commercial 5G networks in Europe are due to be switched on by 2020 and are expected to provide 5G network coverage to almost three-quarters of Europe’s population by 2025.

Last week Deutsche Telekom said it is the first operator in Europe to launch a “5G connection in a real world setting”, after debuting next-generation mobile antennas in Berlin, while in September Telia said it aims “to be the first in the world to bring 5G to partners and clients”, after claiming a European first with two trials showcasing the technology on a live, pre-commercial, public 5G network in Tallinn, Estonia.

Europe is the most highly penetrated mobile region in the world which means there is little room for subscriber growth, but slowing growth is being offset by rapid migration to 4G networks.

The technology accounted for a third of mobile connections in Europe at the end of 2016 and is forecast to account for more than 60 per cent of the total by 2020, as more Europeans take up 4G devices amid growing demand for data and as 4G network coverage increases, the report said.

4G connections will overtake 3G connections in Europe for the first time this year and the technology will evolve and grow in popularity well into the 5G era, supporting higher speeds via network upgrades based on MIMO and carrier aggregation technologies.

Revenue growth
Meanwhile mobile revenue growth in Europe is showing signs of stabilising, following a period of negative or flat growth, the study observed.

European operator revenue reached €143 billion in 2016 and is expected to increase slightly to €146 billion by the end of 2020, thanks to “rising data demand, improved macroeconomic conditions and an easing of regulatory pressures”.

What’s more, mobile technologies and services are expected to generate around €670 billion in economic value (3.9 per cent of GDP), as the region experiences strong growth in productivity as a result of continued adoption of machine-to-machine technology and increased digitisation.

The report also calls for a review of the European Commission’s Digital Single Market, launched two years ago, particularly with regards to new proposals such as the European Electronic Communications Code and ePrivacy Regulation.

“We are calling for fresh dialogue between government and industry to assess how the Digital Single Market has performed to date, what needs to change and where regulation can promote the long-term development of Europe’s digital vision,” said GSMA director general Mats Granryd.