Europe has ‘lost its edge’ in mobile, GSMA finds


The mobile operators association has found Europe is lagging behind the US in rolling out the latest mobile technologies

Europe has fallen behind the US in the deployment of next generation mobile technologies such as 4G, mobile operator association the GSMA has found.

A report from the GSMA, which represents almost 800 mobile operators worldwide, show US consumers use five times more voice minutes and twice as much data as those in the EU. EU consumers pay less per month for mobile services.

The GSMA said US mobile data speeds are 75 per cent faster than the EU average – a gap which is expected to grow.

The US is also deploying LTE, the technology commonly used to provide 4G connectivity, at a much faster pace than the EU. The association found 19 per cent of US connections will be on LTE by the end of 2013, compared with less than two per cent in the EU.

The report, co-authored by analyst firm Navigant Economics, urges European governments to reform regulation to encourage investment and innovation in new technologies.

For example, EU countries need to prioritise the clearing and allocation of spectrum for new technologies. A current review shows many have missed the deadline to allocate spectrum for 4G mobile connectivity.

Regulation should also be changed to make it easier and quicker for companies to merge, the report said.

GSMA director general Anna Bouverot (pictured) said: “Europe was the birthplace of mobile, with a wide range of companies pioneering the innovation that now benefits more than 3.2 billion men and women around the world.

“However, this report confirms the very sobering reality that Europe has lost its edge in mobile and is significantly underperforming other advanced economies, including the United States. While there are many factors that have contributed to Europe’s current position, it is clear that enlightened policy reforms could bring improvement, creating substantial benefits for EU consumers and driving economic growth.”

Navigant Economics managing director Jeffrey Eisenach said: “While there are several factors leading to this divergent performance, it can be partially attributed to the relatively inefficient structure of mobile markets in Europe.

“EU regulatory policies have resulted in a fragmented market structure that prevents operators from capturing beneficial economies of scale and scope and inhibits the growth of the mobile ecosystem.”


  1. This is nothing new to me. I’m from the UK and currently is only one carrier offering 4G services (at premium prices with stupidly low data caps). Other carriers will be launching 4G services over the summer and into the autumn. The reason we use more voice minutes is because most data plans are grossly over priced and have data cap restrictions, some as low as 250MB per month. I pay £40 ($60) for unlimited data because I’m always using the net or downloading something.

    As the reason for 4G services taking so long to launch, this is down the the 4G bandwidth auction taking so long to set up and agree the conditions of. We have Ofcom to thank for that.