Europe needs to bet on mobile communications to drive growth, increase employment, stimulate innovation and improve sustainability. This was the main message that the GSM Association (GSMA) sent to the attendants during the Connected Europe conference in Brussels on 28 November.
The event explored how mobile-enabled services can revolutionise core European sectors such as transport, healthcare and utilities. Besides, it examined how a right policy framework can accelerate the roll-out of new mobile services that will boost socio-economic benefits for the region.
Despite the mobile industry is losing revenues, the sector is still a key pillar for Europe, comparable in size to aerospace and larger than pharmaceuticals, with total revenues amounting to around €174 billion, according to GSMA.
“Europe is experiencing successive waves of mobile connectivity”, stated Anne Bouverot, GSMA Director General. “The first wave – Europe’s GSM success – connected people on the move. The second wave brought mobile broadband at ever-increasing speeds to hundreds of millions of Europe’s citizens and businesses.”
She explained that the third wave is taking place now “with mobile networks delivering connectivity to devices ranging from health monitors and smart meters to connected cars, transforming the face of industry and the lives of individuals.”
Europe has the highest mobile penetration rate in the world, with total connections of 135% and predicted to rise to 152% by 2017. Furthermore, by the end of this decade, mobile connections will increase more than 60%, meaning 2.1 billion.
Mobile connectivity is expected to generate by 2020 in Europe almost €23 billion for healthcare; €46 billion for Smart Cities and utilities; and €48 billion for the automotive and transport sector.
Thanks to this strong potential, Member States will be able to drive growth through network investment, job creation and contributions to public funding, and generate further employment opportunities beyond the jobs created for an estimated 1.7 million citizens. Likewise, the EU will have the possibility of create a platform for innovation across all sectors and support sustainability by limiting carbon emissions.
“Europe has been an innovator and leader from the inception of mobile communications, although this leadership position has weakened in recent years”, Bouverot continued. Therefore, to recover and be again at the top of the mobile sector, all stakeholders from private industry to governments must work together.
GSMA Director also called the EU institutions to work on policies and regulations to re-position the mobile sector “at the forefront of this exciting industry.” Besides build consumer trust in new services, they should also establish a regulation to address key issues such as connectivity, by investing in mobile broadband, and enable development of innovative content, services and business models.