Industry group ETNO called for swift action to address fragmentation and a restrictive regulatory environment which it argued is hindering the continent’s progress in 5G relative to the US and Asia.
Research by the association showed the region is lagging in network deployments and digital investment metrics covering 5G and AI. It said fragmentation and regulation contributed to “weakening the European telecoms sector”.
The State of Digital Communications report, launched by ETNO in conjunction with research group Analysys Mason, showed a quarter of citizens had access to at least one next-generation network in Q3 2020, up from 12.9 per cent in the comparable 2019 period.
In contrast, 76 per cent of the US population had access to technology, while in South Korea the figure stood at 93 per cent.
ETNO’s research also found demand in Europe was lower than other markets, noting this could impact the operator business case for faster rollouts.
The average mass market telecoms spend per capita in Europe stood at €34.70, compared with €76.10 in the US and €52.50 in Japan. European ARPU is also lower at €14.90, versus €36.90 in the US and €28.10 in Japan.
Europe’s biggest operators including Vodafone Group, Deutsche Telekom, Telecom Italia and Telefonica have all launched 5G, so the report will no doubt be concerning the national governments which have earmarked the technology as key for future infrastructure development and boosting economies.
In other areas, ETNO noted Europe had a significant role in advancing innovation in AI.
Between 2010 and 2020, the continent secured 11,400 patents, better than China (5,700) and Japan (4,000), but behind South Korea’s 16,800 and 53,200 by the US.
Rupert Wood, research director at Analysys Mason, added: “European operators remain exposed to greater competitive pressures than elsewhere and consequently have revenue lines that change little in relation to surging demand.”
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