Blog attributed to Daniel Pataki, Head of Europe, GSMA
The insights from our annual Mobile Economy Europe Report, published this month, are particularly pertinent as Europe embarks on post-pandemic recovery while tackling the climate crisis. The report shows the crucial role mobile technology will play as governments look to reinvigorate their economies and build a better, more inclusive society. With mobile networks vital to economic recovery and future crisis resilience, the industry needs a supportive, investment-friendly policy framework to drive infrastructure deployments, fuel sustainable growth and trigger a green and digital transformation across Europe.
5G has the potential to deliver a significant amount of value to the region, but the mobile sector remains heavily regulated and influenced by fragmented policy frameworks. To ensure Europe keeps up with the global 5G pacesetters, policymakers must practice efficient spectrum management and move to eliminate network rollout barriers.
Mobile continues to contribute to the economy and environment
European operators are committed to supporting national climate change policies and the EU Green Deal, towards a zero-carbon economy, including using greener digital technologies that are more energy efficient.
In 2020, mobile technologies and services generated 4.6% of GDP in Europe. The mobile ecosystem also supported approximately 2.4 million jobs, with €84 billion raised through taxation, a substantial contribution to the funding of the public sector.
In 2020, 86% of the population in Europe, 472 million people, subscribed to mobile services. Operators are making significant contributions to the welfare of society, with progress against the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This includes providing access to life-enhancing educational tools and platforms, delivering the connectivity and solutions to drive productivity gains, and leading efforts to combat the effects of climate change.
The European mobile industry has kept consumers and businesses connected throughout the pandemic, despite changes in data consumption patterns and demands. During these testing time, networks remained resilient despite an increase in mobile data traffic and surge in residential broadband usage.
The 5G era takes shape
Rising smartphone adoption and widespread availability of 4G have underpinned growth in Europe’s data traffic. Consumers have used more mobile services such as internet-based messaging, social media, entertainment and e-commerce. This trend will continue as Europe adopts technologies and services made possible by 5G. For example, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR); solutions and applications for smart homes, cities and buildings; and emerging services such as drone delivery, consumer robotics and autonomous cars. In Finland, Elisa expects that “by 2023, data traffic over the 5G network will exceed that of 4G.”
According GSMA Intelligence’s 5G Consumer Scorecard, early adopters of 5G are largely satisfied with their experience: 75% of 5G users report that the service has met or exceeded their expectations. Over the period to 2030, 5G technologies will drive further contributions to Europe’s economy, impacting key industries such as manufacturing and public administration. Around the world, there is a live commercial 5G network in every region. By the end of 2025, the region will be home to 276 million 5G connections, with the Nordics and Western Europe recording the highest adoption rates.
Source: GSMA Intelligence
 Interim Report Q1 2021, Elisa, 2021