Europe Falls Further Behind US and Asia in 5G Rollout
Europe has rapidly fallen behind the US and Asia in the race to build 5G networks despite increased investment by the region’s largest players.
The number of Europeans able to connect to a 5G network was 24 percent at the end of September compared to 13 per cent at the end of 2019, according to new research.
However, that pales in comparison with the 76 per cent of Americans able to connect to 5G and even higher rates in some parts of Asia, such as South Korea where it is 93 per cent, according to a report by telecoms trade body ETNO and research company Analysys Mason.
Europe’s poor performance will add to concerns about the economic impact of the slow pace of network upgrades compared to other regions. 5G networks are deemed to be critical national infrastructure by most governments and key in modernising factory floors, transport systems and healthcare.
The European Commission has said repeatedly over the past decade that the continent will play a leading role in the 5G era, going as far as to launch multiple ‘action plans’ aimed at stimulating investment, but progress has stalled.
Groups including Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, BT, Telefónica and Telecom Italia have all launched 5G and upgraded more fixed networks to fibreoptic cables to support the rollout and the ETNO report shows that the pace of investment by the sector is rising, with almost €52bn spent in 2019 compared to €48.6bn the previous year.
德国电信（Deutsche Telekom）、沃达丰（Vodafone）、英国电信（BT）、西班牙电信（Telefónica）和意大利电信（Telecom Italia）等企业都已开通5G服务，并将更多固定网络升级为光纤电缆，以支持5G网络的铺设。欧洲电信网络运营商协会的报告显示，该行业正在加快投资步伐，2019年投资接近520亿欧元，相比之下2018年投资额为486亿欧元。
However, the average investment per capita in new networks remains lower than in other regions at €94.8 compared to €147.9 in the US and €233 in Japan.
The industry has long argued that heavy-handed and inconsistent regulations have stymied progress across the fragmented European market, causing lower returns on investment and putting a brake on investing the billions of euros needed to upgrade networks to 5G.
“European (telecoms companies) invest more than in the past, but this does not suffice to bridge the gap. We need strong policy action for massive network rollout and uptake,” said Lise Fuhr, director-general of ETNO.
European companies are spending a larger share of their revenue on network upgrades than in other regions. However, monthly average mobile revenue per user in the region was less than €15 compared to €23.7 in the South Korea and €28.1 in Japan and €36.9 in the US, according to the report, which has a detrimental effect on investment the sector says.