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The GSMA says there is a need for European industry and governments to work together to harness the potential of mobile communications to drive growth, increase employment, stimulate innovation and improve sustainability. Despite recent setbacks for the European mobile industry with decreasing revenues that will impact future investment, mobile communication is still a key European industry, comparable in size to aerospace and larger than pharmaceuticals, with total revenues amounting to around 174 billion Euros.


Anne Bouverot, director general, GSMA, commented at a conference in Brussels: “Europe is experiencing successive waves of mobile connectivity. The first wave – Europe’s GSM success – connected people on the move. The second wave brought mobile broadband at ever-increasing speeds to hundreds of millions of Europe’s citizens and businesses. We are now seeing the third wave with mobile networks delivering connectivity to devices ranging from health monitors and smart meters to connected cars, transforming the face of industry and the lives of individuals.”

Impact of Mobile in Europe

Europe has the highest mobile penetration rate in the world, with total connections of 135 per cent in Europe in 2012 (versus 87 per cent in Asia and 108 per cent in Northern America), and predicted to rise to 152 per cent by 2017. Meanwhile the penetration of unique mobile subscribers is currently at 76 per cent in the region and set to increase to 80 per cent by 2017. Across Europe, it is forecast there will be 2.1 billion mobile connections by the end of this decade, an increase of more than 60 per cent from 1.3 billion today 3. Advanced mobile broadband networks are delivering faster data rates, low latency and expanding coverage, with currently 326 million mobile broadband connections in Europe alone. Mobile connected devices in Europe are predicted to soar to almost 1 billion by 2020, with total connected devices estimated to reach almost 6 billion. Total revenues forecast for key industries in Europe through mobile connectivity by 2020 per year include almost 23 billion Euros for healthcare; 46 billion Euros for Smart Cities and utilities; and 48 billion Euros for the automotive and transport sector.

Meeting Key EU Challenges

The mobile industry now has the potential to meet four key EU challenges by:

  • Driving growth through network investment, job creation and contributions to public funding, including through taxes and licence fees, and also by transforming other industries;
  • Generating further employment opportunities beyond the jobs created for an estimated 1.7 million European citizens already;
  • Providing a platform and spur for innovation across all sectors and the whole economy; and
  • Supporting sustainability by limiting its own carbon emissions and helping reduce carbon footprints across other industries.

Realising the Connected Europe

Private investment, enterprise and innovation will be vital for building a Connected Europe, with partnerships between industry sectors and between industry and government. However, EU institutions can enable the full and accelerated development of a Connected Europe by taking a supportive policy and regulatory approach that addresses key asks from the European mobile industry:

Connectivity – encourage investment in mobile broadband networks and reduce obstacles to their deployment

  • Accelerate the harmonised deployment of available spectrum across all member states, and identify new spectrum for next generation mobile networks
  • Help limit network deployment costs by allowing infrastructure sharing on a commercial basis, promoting national best-practice on base station licensing and authorisation, and ensuring EMF-related policies are in line with World Health Organisation recommendations
  • ‘Fill in’ broadband coverage gaps by complementing private sector-led investments with public funding and financial support

Content and services – enable development of innovative content, services and business models

  • Facilitate industry collaboration on the delivery of interoperable, pan-European services that can help realise new market scale opportunities for the whole economy
  • Ensure operators can continue to manage data traffic so they can deliver innovative services that work and provide the quality of service that consumers and businesses expect
  • Update pan-European content licensing rules to enable new business models for rights holders and commercial users, and attractive content offers for consumers

Confidence – help build consumer trust in new services and encourage their take-up

  • Update EU data privacy rules so they are clear and consistent for consumers across the mobile ecosystem value chain, as well as flexible enough to address potential future risks, whilst encouraging innovation
  • Continue to support mobile industry led self-regulatory initiatives on child protection in areas such as parental controls, education and awareness, and online child abuse images
  • Promote and prioritise initiatives to develop eSkills and increase digital literacy

Bouverot continued: “Europe has been an innovator and leader from the inception of mobile communications, although this leadership position has weakened in recent years. The third wave of mobile and the delivery of connected services present a new and substantial opportunity for future growth. It is my wish that the mobile industry and European institutions establish a positive policy framework that will continue to position Europe at the forefront of this exciting industry.”

---GSMA

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