European 4G adoption "lagging" behind rest of the world, claims GSMA

The deployment of European 4G networks is falling behind most other parts of the world and mobile revenues are also in decline, according to a recent GSMA report.

The Mobile Economy Europe report paints a bleak picture of the next generation network and said that only 0.3 per cent of devices sold in Europe at the end of 2012 were 4G-enabled. This compares with 11 per cent in the US and a massive 28 per cent in South Korea.

Europe was long viewed as a pioneer in mobile, but, as this report illustrates, is now lagging behind other regions.

The organisation said increasing investments in the US had translated into faster data connections, resulting in mobile connectivity speeds that are up to 75 per cent faster that the EU average. This gap is also expected to increase as time goes on.

Ann Bouverot, director general of the GSMA, said the figures highlight the sorry state of the European mobile market.

"Europe was long viewed as a pioneer in mobile, but, as this report illustrates, is now lagging behind other regions in the deployment of mobile broadband, particularly in 4G," she said.

"Despite this, the mobile industry can play a key role in the European recovery, but this will require policy that encourages investment in mobile broadband connectivity, enables innovation and helps build consumer confidence in mobile services. This should be at the heart of the Commission's planned proposals on a single telecoms market."

Europe has the world's highest mobile subscriber penetration rate at 79 per cent, but this has failed to stop revenues declining in recent years. Europe's overall mobile revenues decreased from 162 billion in 2010 to 151 billion in 2012.

The report said Europe could regain its pre-eminence in mobile by investing in connected wireless devices and promoting mobile technology in industry sectors such as automotive, commerce, education, health, government and utilities.

This would "create opportunities for new business models and revenue streams, supporting growth, jobs, innovation and sustainability," it was claimed.

"Clearly, the focus needs to be on stimulating investment to achieve long-term economic growth," said Bouverot.

"The move to a Connected Life, where nearly everything and everyone are connected, presents an important opportunity for Europe to regain its leadership position. Collectively, we must create an environment that will attract and nurture investment in mobile."

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.