GSMA: Mobile Contributes £360bn To European Economy

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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GSMA says M2M and 4G is boosting economy, but warns more must be done to establish a European single market

The GSMA says the mobile industry is contributing more than €500 billion (£359bn), or 3.2 percent of the region’s GDP, to the European economy, but has warned a single communications market must be established if growth projections are to be realised.

According to the industry body, investments in 4G infrastructure and networks supporting the Internet of Things (IoT) has helped boost the figure.

It says there are 430 million unique mobile subscribers in Europe – 89 percent of the population – but due to high penetration there is room for limited growth. It expects the number to reach 450 million by the end of the decade but greater demand for data will improve prospects for operators and drive investment.

GSMA Europe contribution

GSMA Huawei MBBF 2015 3Smartphones will account for 76 percent of all European connections by 2020, while average monthly data use will increase to 6GB, said the GSMA, citing figures from Cisco.

“Europe’s mobile operators have invested heavily in 4G over the past few years despite challenging macroeconomic and regulatory conditions, and we expect investments in 4G deployments, capacity and spectrum to be sustained for the remainder of the decade,” said Alex Sinclair, acting director general of the GSMA.

The GSMA report says 3.8 million jobs have been directly or indirectly created by the mobile industry, while the €500 billion figure cited also includes taxation and spectrum licence fees. It predicts the figure will rise to €600 billion by the end of the decade, but has put pressure on the European Union to remove barriers preventing a single digital economy.

Single digital market

Those in favour of such a market have argued that many M2M services, such as connected cars, will need to work across borders and believe harmonised approaches to spectrum will foster innovation and encourage economies of scale.

“Transforming Europe into a world-leading digital economy will require an extensive regulatory overhaul that encourages investment in future-proof infrastructure and addresses the current fragmented approach in areas such as spectrum,” added Sinclair. “The creation of a Digital Single Market provides a unique opportunity to build a new regulatory framework that supports a new era of digital players, services and business models, underpinned by advanced mobile broadband connectivity.”

Prior to and during last month’s World Radiocommunications Conference (WRC-15) in Geneva, the GSMA lobbied governments and regulators in a bid to secure as much spectrum for mobile as possible on a global scale.

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