LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360-EUROPE: The rapid adoption of 4G services and devices is helping stimulate recovery in the continent’s mobile industry, fueling consumer demand for a “new wave of innovative services”, according to a GSMA report.
With 4G expected to account for more than half of the region’s mobile connections by 2020, up from 10 per cent early next year, the adoption of new services is helping operators move toward stabilisation of revenue and margin following several years of decline in one of the world’s most competitive mobile regions.
However, Anne Bouverot, director general of the industry association, cautioned: “This positive outlook for the industry remains fragile, especially in light of renewed concerns over the macro-economic situation in Europe. The industry is therefore looking forward to working with the new European Commission and Parliament to build a common agenda that enables a sustainable recovery and powers a world-leading digital economy and connected society”.
4G networks currently cover more than 63 per cent of the European population, having passed the 50 per cent milestone early in 2014. Networks are increasingly being deployed using the ‘digital dividend’ spectrum freed-up by the switch-over from analogue to digital broadcasting, enabling greater coverage reach – 4G networks are expected to reach 83 per cent of the EU population by 2020.
But the ability to sustain investments in networks and services will be dependent on improvement in the industry’s financial outlook. GSMA said that capital expenditure by European operators in the seven year period between 2008 and 2014 will total €155 billion, but this could grow to €170 billion over the next six years (2015 to 2020) as operators look to add network capacity and expand 4G coverage.
“Europe’s operators must have the commercial freedom to develop new business models, innovate at the network and service level, and offer customised services that can attract investment and drive innovation and competition in the global marketplace,” Bouverot added.
Also, smartphones are expected to account for almost three quarters of total connections by this point, with the 50 per cent milestone expected to be passed by the end of 2015 – several key markets including France, Italy, Spain and UK have already reached this point.