GSMA has released a new report which highlights how far Europe has fallen behind the U.S. in the deployment of next generation mobile technology.
• U.S. consumers use five times more voice minutes and twice as much data as EU consumers.
• EU consumers pay $38 per month on average for mobile wireless and U.S. consumers pay $69 per month on average.
• Growth in investment in the U.S. is translating into faster data connection speeds: U.S. speeds are now 75 percent faster than the EU average, and the gap is expected to grow
• The U.S. is deploying LTE at a much faster pace than the EU; by YE 2013, 19 percent of U.S. connections will be on LTE networks compared to less than two percent in the EU
Too bad Europe is falling behind with its LTE rollout. US’ infamously bad 3G networks made the country into LTE world leaders out of pure necessity. Whatever the reasons may have been, mobile networks are increasingly important infrastructure and it’s hard to overview what long term effects in terms of innovation, growth and competitiveness such a gap will have.
Ironically, some of the operators in Europe actually where forerunners within LTE, but the bands they chose to deploy were not the ones that got widely supported. A few examples from the report: Apple’s iPhone doesn’t support the bands which are prevalent in Western Europe, including France, Italy and Spain. TeliaSonera launched a 4G network in Sweden already in 2009, and Vodafone Germany’s 4G deployment began in 2010, but the first 4G-enabled European smartphones didn’t arrive until early 2012.
I’m currently on an HSPA+ network and my connection speed is consistently over 20 Mb/s down and about 3.75 Mb/s up. Not LTE speeds, but I never have to wait for things to load and I can stream full HD video. With “good enough” HSPA networks and markets with comparably low prices for voice and data, it’s easy to understand why network operators hesitate to make the necessary investments. However, according to the above graph, such speeds are not the norm, and European network operators better get (back) on the LTE train as soon as possible.
Good to know how our Mobile Services Stateside compare to the rest of the world.