Europe's mobile industry is being hamstrung by a fractured and inefficient mix of over-regulated markets, with American consumers set to benefit from twice as fast mobile broadband by 2017.
A report by the trade body GSMA said the European market is over-regulated, backing claims by many telecom CEOs. It recommended that a single market for mobile across the continent should be implemented, imposing a single European regulator, stripping out restrictions on planning and network sharing and paying subsidies for increasing rural coverage. Europe should be more prepared to allow telecom companies to merge, arguing market forces should determine the best number of competitors. The GSMA said Europe needs to address a looming spectrum shortfall and speed up the allocation of the 700MHz band for future mobile data services.
If none of these recommendations are taken forward, the trade body argued that Europe will continue to lag behind the United States, despite early innovations in the mobile market being pioneered this side of the Atlantic. The report found US consumers are using nearly twice as much data as Europeans. By the end of this year, nearly a fifth of US consumers will be on a 4G network, compared to fewer than one in 50 in Europe.
Anne Bouverot, director general of GSMA, said: 'Europe was the early leader in 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.'
Author: Graeme Neill