The GSMA said the mobile industry is expected to contribute €600 billion ($648 billion) to Europe's gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020, up from €500 billion -- or 3.2 per cent -- of GDP in 2014.
According to a new report from the association, which represents mobile operators across the globe, the industry's contribution to Europe's economy will be boosted in particular by increased investments in 4G networks and services. Indeed, 4G is expected to account for 60 per cent of the continent's mobile connections by 2020, up from 20 per cent today.
The report, titled The Mobile Economy: Europe 2015, also noted that markets across the region are set to benefit from the improvements in productivity and efficiency brought about by the adoption of new mobile technologies, including machine-to-machine (M2M) communications.
Alex Sinclair, acting director general and CTO at the GSMA, said 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."
"Mobile subscribers in Europe are now benefiting from download speeds that far exceed the global average and are taking advantage of a range of innovative new services made possible by next-generation networks and devices," Sinclair added.
By the end of 2015, Europe is set to have 430 million unique mobile subscribers representing 79 per cent of the population. By 2020, the number of subscribers is set to reach 450 million, representing 81 per cent of the population at that point.
The migration to 4G networks is driven by the expanding coverage of 4G networks and increased adoption of smartphones. 4G network coverage passed 80 per cent of the European population in early 2015 and is forecast to exceed 95 per cent by the end of the decade. Smartphones are forecast to account for 76 per cent of Europe's mobile connections by 2020, up from 60 per cent this year.
The development of 4G infrastructure is, in turn, having an impact on data traffic, with average monthly data usage for Western Europe expected to grow from less than 1 GB per month in 2014 to nearly 6 GB in 2019, according to Cisco. The GSMA report observed that revenue from mobile data services is also helping many operators return to service revenue growth after periods of negative growth.
Although the GSMA presents a generally positive picture of the wider impact that the mobile industry can have, it also noted that an extensive regulatory overhaul is essential, as outlined within the proposals for a European Digital Single Market.
"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," said Sinclair.
- see the GSMA report
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