GSMA Report: Mobile Data Traffic in Europe to Triple in 5 Years

According to recent study by the GSMA, a non-profit industry association representing the interests of mobile network operators around the world, mobile data traffic in Europe will almost triple over the next five years due to the spread of 4G in central and eastern Europe and the ongoing enhancement of 5G capacity and coverage. 

As the demand for high-quality gaming, extended reality, and video content increases, analysis collated for the organization’s annual European Mobile Economy Report shows that 5G users, in particular, are interested in adding high-bandwidth services and content to their mobile contracts. Due to these demands, operators in Europe will need to keep investing in their mobile networks; by 2030, it is already anticipated that they would have spent more than Eur 198 billion on network upgrades.

Daniel Pataki, VP for Policy and Regulation, and Head of Europe for the GSMA. 
“Europe has a strong history of leadership in mobile and digital technologies, but strong, sustained investment in networks is now needed to regain that leadership in the face of global competition,” said Daniel Pataki, VP for Policy and Regulation, and Head of Europe for the GSMA. 

With more than 1000 mobile operators as full GSMA members, the GSMA unites the mobile ecosystem to find, create, and distribute innovation that is essential to improving business conditions and bringing about good social change. The GSMA represents operators and industry players, offering services, promoting connectivity for good, and conducting outreach. GSMA also organizes major events like MWC and M360 Series.

“Europe has a strong history of leadership in mobile and digital technologies, but strong, sustained investment in networks is now needed to regain that leadership in the face of global competition,” said Daniel Pataki, Vice President for Policy and Regulation, and Head of Europe for the GSMA. “We’re encouraged to see European policymakers now facing up to that reality and examining the potential for meaningful policy change on areas such as consolidation, spectrum harmonization and the creation of fairer investment models for infrastructure, as we go into 2024. Our report shows that action is needed now to give European citizens and businesses the digital infrastructure they need for the future.”

Mobile Operator Ecosystem

After thorough examination, the report, which assesses the economic contribution of the mobile ecosystem to Europe, also reveals that:

  • The mobile sector generated EUR 910 billion in value to the European economy in 2022, accounting for 4.3% of GDP in the continent
  • The ecosystem as a whole supported 2.2 million jobs in 2022, either directly or indirectly
  • Mobile-based productivity generated EUR 670 billion, while operators’ own contributions generated EUR 110 billion
  • It is anticipated that the industry will contribute one trillion euros to the economy by 2030, mostly due to the ecosystem’s ongoing growth and the advantages that the adoption of mobile services will bring to vertical sectors in terms of increased productivity and efficiency

According to the GSMA, taxes from the mobile ecosystem brought in EUR 110 billion in 2022. Of those taxes, EUR 50 billion came from social security and employment taxes, while EUR 40 billion came from services, VAT, sales taxes, and excise charges.

5G Advancement

According to the most recent research, 5G adoption in Germany and the UK will propel it to become the dominant mobile technology in Europe over the next three years. 87% of users are anticipated to have access to 5G by 2030.

As 5G use cases are incorporated into the operations of European economies, the GSMA anticipates that the technology will grow and help a variety of commercial sectors. By 2030, the services sector will account for 53% of 5G’s commercial gains, with manufacturing accounting for over 30% due to applications like smart factories, smart cities, and smart grids. In light of this, 5G is expected to contribute to the expansion of the European GDP, generating EUR 153 billion in benefits over the course of the next ten years, or 15% of the total economic effect of the mobile industry. Over the next five years, many of these advantages will become a reality, according to GSMA’s report.

Concerns over the effects of European rules impeding investment in next-generation network technology, which might jeopardize the bloc’s digital leadership worldwide and its aspirational ‘Digital Decade’ aspirations, are tempering the further expansion of 5G. The adoption of more capable ‘standalone (SA)’ 5G, for instance, is still lagging behind other regions in Europe. By the end of 2022, only 5% of active 5G networks in Europe were 5G SA, compared to 25% in Asia Pacific. This is likely due to the difficult operating conditions that European operators continue to face, including low returns and market fragmentation.