Europe's rapid migration to LTE or "4G" services and devices is helping to stimulate a recovery in the continent's mobile industry, according to a new report from the GSM Association (GSMA).
The study, titled Mobile Economy: Europe 2014, found that 4G will account for more than half of mobile connections in the region by 2020, up from 10 per cent in early 2015. 4G networks currently cover 63 per cent of the European population, having surpassed the 50 per cent milestone earlier this year.
"There are encouraging signs that Europe's mobile industry is beginning to recover as both operators and consumers begin to see the benefit from the billions of euros of investment in 4G networks over the last few years," said Anne Bouverot, director general of the GSMA. "Europe's mobile operators are embracing new technologies and new business models, leading innovation in areas such as M2M, digital commerce, mobile identity and advanced network services."
However, the GSMA believes more needs to be done at the regulatory and telecoms policy level within the European Union to encourage future investments in next-generation networks.
"This positive outlook for the industry remains fragile, especially in light of renewed concerns over the macro-economic situation in Europe. The industry is therefore looking forward to working with the new European Commission and Parliament to build a common agenda that enables a sustainable recovery and powers a world-leading digital economy and connected society," Bouverot added.
The GSMA also released a separate report that set out its vision for 5G. The association said it plans to play a significant role in shaping the strategic, commercial and regulatory development of the 5G ecosystem. This will include areas such as the definition of roaming and interconnect in 5G, and the identification and alignment of suitable spectrum bands.
"Our new report aims to reset the discussion on 5G, drawing the distinction between a true generational shift versus the on-going evolution of existing technologies that are already delivering a next-generation mobile experience," said Bouverot. "The GSMA will support the industry to continue to innovate and grow, working in close collaboration with our members, the wider mobile ecosystem, governments and other industry organisations to deliver a digital future for all."
ABI Research: LTE handset shipments expected to near 680M in 2015
Europe accelerates push toward a 5G wireless future
Fitch: Worst is over for EU telecoms operators
Ericsson: 90% of world's population will have a mobile phone by 2020
Telekom Austria plans to play 'key role' in 5G