Fuelled by the migration from 4G to 5G and improvements in 5G coverage, mobile data traffic in Central and Eastern Europe is projected to nearly triple over the next five years, driven by increased demand for high-quality gaming, extended reality, and video content.
Continued Investment Required in European Mobile Networks
The GSMA’s annual European mobile economy report emphasizes that the rising demand for high-bandwidth services and content from 5G subscribers necessitates continued investment in Europe’s mobile networks. Operators are expected to spend over €198bn on network upgrades by 2030.
Significant Economic Contribution of Mobile Ecosystem in 2022
The mobile ecosystem added €910bn of value to the European economy in 2022, contributing 4.3% to GDP. It generated €110bn in taxes, supported 2.2 million jobs, and contributed €670bn to the economy through mobile-based productivity.
5G Dominance and Economic Impact by 2030
The report predicts that 5G will become Europe’s dominant mobile technology within the next three years, reaching 87% of all users by 2030. It anticipates 5G contributing €153bn to European GDP growth, representing 15% of the overall economic impact of the mobile sector.
Business Sector Benefits from 5G Expansion
By 2030, 53% of 5G’s business benefits are expected to originate from the services sector, while nearly 30% will come from manufacturing, driven by applications like smart factories, smart cities, and smart grids.
Growth and Adoption of Smart Devices
The GSMA calculates over 900 million active connections in Europe through smartphones and feature phones. It predicts device ownership to reach 91% by 2030, driven by increased affordability.
Concerns and Challenges for 5G Growth
Despite the positive outlook, the report warns about concerns related to policies hindering investment in next-generation network technologies in Europe. The challenges include market fragmentation and low returns, potentially impacting the region’s global digital leadership.
Satellite Connectivity Flourishes and AI Exploration
The report highlights the flourishing trend of satellite connectivity to address coverage gaps. Additionally, it notes that generative AI is actively being explored by operators for activities such as code development, network management, and customer care.
Call for Sustained Investment and Policy Changes
Daniel Pataki, Vice President for Policy and Regulation and Head of Europe at the GSMA, stresses the need for sustained investment in networks to regain leadership in mobile and digital technologies. Policymakers are urged to consider changes in areas such as consolidation, spectrum harmonization, and fair investment models for infrastructure.