Qualcomm Europe exec says consolidation and LTE development are fuelling region's revival

BARCELONA, Spain--Qualcomm Europe's senior director of business development said the region is bouncing back in terms of technology development and operators' investments in networks.

The executive, Laurent Fournier, told FierceWireless:Europe key trends including operator consolidation and fixed-mobile convergence are helping the European market to recover from several lean years, and that LTE has helped to stimulate revenue growth that, in turn, has boosted investment in innovation.

"Over the last couple of years in Europe we saw a lot of mergers and acquisitions between fixed assets and mobile assets," Fournier noted, explaining that such convergence "is essential to develop an end-to-end business model" for the operators. Fixed and mobile M&As have happened "fast and positively, I would say, for the mobile operators," Fournier said.

Mobile operator consolidation such as Telefónica Deutschland's acquisition of E-Plus and Hutchison Whampoa's acquisition of O2 Ireland is another important shift for the European market, Fournier noted. Reducing the number of operators to below four in a given market allows the remaining operators to stabilise their pricing rather than engaging in damaging price wars that reduce their revenues and, in turn, their ability to invest in networks.

While operators' ability to invest in their networks has been stymied to a degree by competition and price wars, Fournier noted that MNOs "couldn't afford not to go into the LTE space", because the technology is "changing the perception of data performance, which is allowing operators to open new revenue streams by offering new types of services.

Fournier noted that the impact of LTE on operator revenues is not instantaneous, but that they are building up over time.

"It's gradually progressing here… you install the new technology and then you realise that the revenue or the ARPU you had for data increased drastically between 2G and 3G, and is probably going to rise again with 4G adoption," he explained.

Europe is also delivering in terms of LTE Advanced and carrier aggregation deployments Fournier said. "I'm not disappointed by Europe," he said, noting that the region was bested only by South Korea in terms of deploying those technologies. The region is also "currently leveraging a very strong asset…which is spectrum management. We as Qualcomm have participated a lot in making sure that regulators, national spectrum agencies, would understand what kind of technology evolutions were popping up in order to fully leverage the spectrums, and reversely to deliver spectrums that would fully leverage and differentiate Europe from the other regions."

"Fournier added: In that sense what was done in the EC signing 800 MHz, 2.6 GHz. Now we're signing the L-band, so the 1.4 GHz across Europe. Going to assign 2.3, 3.5 in a harmonised way is greatly contributing to this regain of leadership in technology adoption."

Related Articles:
Austria's consumer prices rise following mobile market consolidation
Vanishing brands reflect Europe's shifting mobile landscape
Analysts: EC MNO merger precedents bode well for Hutchison Whampoa's UK play
In Europe's mobile sector, M&A is still on operators' minds
Hutchison Whampoa faces fight with BSkyB, TalkTalk to acquire O2 UK from Telefónica