EU Mobile Data Market Growing Rapidly Driven By Spread of Mobile Broadband

EU data roaming traffic growing at 75 per cent per annum

Usage of mobile data services, which enable people to access the Internet, email and other multimedia on the move, is growing rapidly in the European Union as mobile broadband networks proliferate and prices fall.

The EU’s mobile data market* grew by 40% to 7 billion euros in 2007 as operators invested more than 20 billion euros in enhancing their mobile networks and services, according to research by Wireless Intelligence and consultancy AT Kearney for the GSMA, the global body for the mobile industry. In the year to April 2008, the number of 3G users in the EU doubled to 112 million. Europe has adopted 3G faster than any other region of the world**.

The cost of 3G services, 3G handsets, 3G-enabled laptops and dongles that enable laptops to connect to mobile broadband networks is falling steadily. In some European markets, mobile broadband services are now priced lower than comparable fixed-line broadband services. For example, mobile data services are available in the U.K. for as little as 10 pounds (13 euros) a month and in Austria for 10 euros a month.

Moreover, AT Kearney estimates*** that the average retail price of data roaming, which enable travellers to access multimedia services using a mobile phone or laptop, fell by 25 per cent in the year to April 2008 in the EU and that EU data roaming traffic grew 75% over the same period. AT Kearney also estimates that the average price of text messaging roaming services fell 18 per cent in the year to April 2008.

Many mobile operators now offer data services in large bundles for a flat fee and are introducing new measures to inform customers of their usage and the price of the service, giving customers better control over their spending and reducing the likelihood of unexpectedly high bills. Some operators, for example, send customers who reach the limit of their bundle a message warning them that they have exceeded their limit. Customers are then disconnected if they do not respond. One operator group even plans to cap monthly bills irrespective of usage.

“Competition, including from Wi-Fi, is delivering dramatic reductions in the retail price of data services, which give mobile users the convenience of being able to access email, the Internet and other multimedia services wherever they travel within Europe,” said Tom Phillips, Chief Government & Regulatory Affairs Officer of the GSMA. “We expect prices to continue to fall as operators further innovate around tariffs and more and more Europeans use these services as a part of their everyday lives.”

The popularity of mobile email services with regular travellers is a good example of how the market is delivering highly successful data roaming services at attractive prices. Services that enable travellers to send and receive emails within Europe, via a Blackberry or similar device, are available for as little as 15 euros a month.

Notes to Editors:
*Excluding text messaging

**The proportion of people in the EEA/EU27 using 3G is 22.5% compared with 18.4% in the U.S. and Canada and 3.7% in Asia-Pacific, according to Wireless Intelligence.

***AT Kearney’s estimates are based on actual data supplied by 38 mobile operators, representing 59% of users in the EU/EEA for the 12 months up to April 1st 2008. The data shows that the average retail price for downloading a megabyte of data while roaming within the EU was 5.06 euros in the first quarter of 2008 compared with 5.62 euros for the sample in the fourth quarter of 2007.

The data also shows that the average retail price of sending a text message while roaming within the EU was 28 euro cents in the first quarter of 2008 compared with 31 euro cents for the sample in the fourth quarter of 2007.

About the GSMA:

The GSM Association (GSMA) is the global trade association representing more than 750 GSM mobile phone operators across 218 countries and territories of the world. The Association’s members represent more than 3 billion GSM and 3GSM connections – over 86% of the world’s mobile phone connections. In addition, more than 200 manufacturers and suppliers support the Association’s initiatives as key partners.

The primary goals of the GSMA are to ensure mobile phones and wireless services work globally and are easily accessible, enhancing their value to individual customers and national economies, while creating new business opportunities for operators and their suppliers.

For further information contact:
David Pringle

GSM Association
Email: [email protected]