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GSMA report demonstrates policy action is needed for EU to achieve digital decade goals

GSMA report demonstrates policy action is needed for EU to achieve digital decade goals

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Mobile technologies and services contributed €757 billion to European GDP in 2021, but Europe’s ambitious Digital Decade goals remain threatened by slower 5G rollout compared to competitor markets, a report by GSMA revealed.

The 2022 Mobile Economy Report Europe shows that at the end of June 2022, 108 operators in 34 markets across Europe had launched commercial 5G services, with consumer take-up continuing to grow steadily, now reaching 6% of the mobile customer base. Norway leads in adoption of the technology, with 16% now using 5G, but positive momentum is also evident in Switzerland (14%), Finland (13%), the UK (11%) and Germany (10%).

However, tough market conditions are leaving Europe trailing its global peers. The report predicts that by 2025, the average adoption of 5G across Europe will hit 44%, with the UK and Germany expected to have the highest 5G adoption rates in Europe at 61% and 59% respectively. However, that rapid growth is outpaced by other world economies, with South Korea expected to hit 73% in the same time period, while Japan and the US are likely to achieve 68% adoption.

The pace of 5G coverage expansion across Europe will be a key factor in the transition from 4G to 5G, an important step towards the achievement of Europe’s Digital Decade goals. Although 5G network coverage in Europe will rise to 70% in 2025 (from 47% in 2021), nearly a third of the population will remain without 5G coverage. This compares to 2% or less in South Korea and the US.

Meeting Digital Decade Goals

In 2021, the European Commission (EC) set out its vision for Europe’s Digital Transformation by 2030 in the Digital Decade framework. The strategy promised to deliver tangible benefits for EU economies through the development of digital skills, Digital Transformation of business, sustainable digital infrastructures and the digitalisation of public services.

As economies digitalise, the lynchpin to ensuring success is the acceleration of 5G in Europe for traditional industry and manufacturing to remain competitive. To meet the EC’s 2030 goals, it is vital for policymakers to create the right conditions for private infrastructure investment, network modernisation and digital innovation.

“Europe is adopting 5G faster than ever before, but greater focus on creating the right market conditions for infrastructure investment is needed to keep pace with other world markets. This should include the implementation of the principle of fair contribution to network costs,” said Daniel Pataki, GSMA Vice President for Policy & Regulation and Head of Europe.

Industry Impact

The report also examines how European operators are progressing with the rollout of stand-alone (SA) 5G networks, noting that 5G SA services in Europe are now available in Finland, Germany and Italy. Further deployments are expected in the next few years. The added functionality enabled by 5G SA is key to delivering on the 5G promise of fully supporting advanced 5G use cases.

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