Western Europe data market is potentially enormous

The market for mobile data in both Eastern and Western Europe is potentially enormous, given the region's population, the rapid development of mobile technologies and the growing number of content providers. Application stores, initiated by Apple and Nokia and increasingly adopted by pan-European network operators such as Orange, have extended the reach and potential revenue to be derived from gaming, video, music and thousands of additional applications

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SMS is used by 90% of mobile subscribers, while about 35% use MMS. The high price of other mobile services, including mobile Internet, email, video calls, and mobile TV, has hampered their uptake thus far but recent operator focus on bundled packages which include generous mobile data caps has led to a turnaround: the volume of data transferred over mobile networks quadrupled in 2007 and doubled again in both 2008 and 2009. On average each of the 2.5 million mobile broadband subscribers transfers about 1.5GB of data per month, compared to about 8GB for fixed-line subscribers. This gap is set to close rapidly during the next two years.


The volume of mobile data traffic has grown sharply in line with the fast-growing base of 3G subscribers, which is expected to reach some 27 million by the end of 2010. Key factors of this growth have been the expanded network coverage (reaching 90% of the population by early 2010), and the steadily improving speeds available. In addition, the reduced rates for mobile data services and the introduction of transparent tariff models for data use have played an important part in encouraging data use among subscribers. Competition among MNOs to provide affordable flat-rate tariffs has brought the price per MB down to €0.10 by early 2010, compared to €0.40 in 2007.


Mobile data use is set to grow rapidly in 2010 and 2011 in response to MNO investments in upgraded networks using HSPA and LTE technologies. Although much of this infrastructure upgrade was undertaken before consumer need was identified, the commercial launch of LTE has been strengthened by the adoption of business models which encourage consumers to make use of services available. These incorporate popular services such as flat-rate music downloads and low-price mobile broadband offers. As a result, the number of subscribers using mobile data services reached 6.5 million by early 2010, representing some 60% of all mobile subscribers. By the end of 2010 the average mobile data user will download about 2.5GB per month, and mobile data revenue may generate some SEK 3.2 billion for the year. Article