5G to Power Economic Growth in Europe, Finds GSMA Study

Europe’s mobile ecosystem is forecast to account for more than 4 per cent of the region’s GDP by 2022, but the right regulatory action must be taken to position Europe as a global 5G leader and establish a genuine EU Digital Single Market, according to a new report published by the GSMA today.

The latest regional edition of the GSMA’s flagship Mobile Economy series was released today at the GSMA Mobile 360 – Europe conference, where senior representatives from the mobile industry and regulatory bodies are convening to debate the future of telecoms in Europe.

“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,” commented Mats Granryd, Director General of the GSMA. “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.”

Mobile a Driver of Economic Growth in Europe
In 2017, mobile technologies and services generated 3.3 per cent of GDP1 in Europe, a contribution that amounted to EUR550 billion of economic value added. This contribution is expected to increase to EUR720 billion (4.1 per cent of GDP) by 2022. Europe’s mobile ecosystem also supported 2.5 million jobs in the region in 2017 and made a public funding contribution of EUR100 billion – mainly in the form of general taxation, including VAT, corporate taxes and employment taxes.

Reforms to Drive Digital Evolution
For Europe to realise the full potential of 5G, it needs to create a more supportive policy environment that positions it as a preferred location for investment. Regulation should seek to:
Encourage a strong pro-investment environment that will allow the mobile industry to make investments that will ultimately benefit consumers;
Support a policy of ‘same service, same rules’ that would lead to more competition, innovation and higher consumer welfare;
Provide timely access to harmonised spectrum in the right frequencies, at the right time, and under the right long-term conditions for operators to invest in future networks and services; and
Enable European operators to harness the full potential of data to innovate and compete globally while protecting the privacy and confidentiality of consumers

Europe Prepares to Move to 5G
Europe is the most highly penetrated regional mobile market in the world. According to today’s report, there were 465 million unique mobile subscribers2 in Europe at the end of 2017, representing 85 per cent of the population. This is forecast to grow to 481 million – 88 per cent of the population – by 2025.

Although there is still headroom for 4G growth in many markets, the first 5G launches by European mobile operators are anticipated by the end of the decade. By 2025, it is forecast that 5G will account for around 200 million connections, corresponding to a 29 per cent share of total connections in Europe.3

“Momentum is now building in Europe as we enter the 5G era, as mobile operators conduct trials and prepare to ramp up 5G investments over the coming years,” added Granryd. “Meanwhile, in light of ongoing financial and competitive pressures, Europe’s operators are looking beyond their core telco business in order to explore and unlock new revenue streams in both consumer and enterprise markets across a range of verticals.”