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EU needs clear 5G regulation to guarantee mobile success

The mobile ecosystem could be worth more than 4% of European GDP by 2022, if the right regulatory actions are taken by the European Union government

The European Union (EU) needs to take firm regulatory action on future 5G mobile networks if its members are to capitalise on the potential of the incoming new standard, according to the GSMA, the mobile industry trade association.

The GSMA released the latest regional edition of its Mobile economy report series at its Mobile 360 – Europe conference, which is currently underway in Brussels.

The report forecast that Europe’s mobile ecosystem would be worth a total of €720bn (£641bn) to the regional economy, or 4% of regional GDP by 2022, up from €550bn or 3.3% today.

The mobile industry currently supports 2.5 million jobs around the bloc, and made a public funding contribution of €100bn last year, both of which would also rise.

However, said the GSMA, despite recent moves at the European Union (EU) level to support the development of the industry in Europe – particularly in regard to 5G, which will likely begin commercial roll-out in 2020 – Brussels could still do more to create a more supportive policy environment to position Europe as a preferred global destination for mobile investors.

“5G networks in Europe are expected to provide coverage to almost three-quarters of the region’s population by 2025, and Europe is set to become the world’s third-largest 5G market behind Asia-Pacific and North America by this point,” said GSMA director general Mats Granryd.

“However, success in the 5G era will rest on the ability of governments to implement forward-looking regulatory frameworks that encourage sustainable investment, drive innovation and protect consumers.”  

Ideally, such a framework would do more to encourage a pro-investment environment that would allow the industry to make investments that benefit users; support a “same service, same rules” policy to encourage competition, innovation and better consumer protections; offer timely access to harmonised spectrum in the appropriate radio frequency (RF) bands; and enable operators to harness the potential of data to innovate and compete globally.

The GSMA reckons there could be up to 200 million active 5G connections in Europe (excluding IoT), representing 29% of the forecast total, by 2025.

Granryd said momentum was already building as more operators and their supplier partners begin to conduct trials of elements of the technology and make preparations to ramp up investment.

“Meanwhile, in light of ongoing financial and competitive pressures, Europe’s operators are looking beyond their core telco business to explore and unlock new revenue streams in both consumer and enterprise markets across a range of verticals,” he added.

Read more about 5G

  • Hutchison-backed mobile operator Three is spending lavishly as it bids to be first to market with a commercial 5G network.
  • An Analysys Mason report commissioned by the Broadband Stakeholder Group has highlighted some of the challenges facing the deployment of 5G mobile networks in the UK.
  • The European Investment Bank is loaning Nokia half a billion euros to accelerate 5G mobile network R&D.

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