Mobile operators are often unable to spend their allocated capex because of planning restrictions and a lack of government backing, Strand Consult claims.
The Denmark-based consultancy believes carriers are unfairly blamed for coverage issues by consumers and the press, despite typically allocating 10% to 15% of their annual sales budget to network expansion and technology.
It blames difficulty in gaining local permission to build new towers - and a lack of government support for new technologies, more frequencies and small cells - for operators’ inability to spend their full capex allocation.
A vicious circle is already developing as a result, with press reports of coverage problems leading to rising consumer complaints, and concerns about the impact of mobile masts on health and property values.
The consultancy also notes that many of the problems experienced by consumers relate to network capacity rather than coverage, with growing smartphone usage a factor due to the demand for data the devices create.