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Is 2013 the year for widespread 4G in Europe?

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Sweden not only implemented the first 4G network in the world, but also runs the fastest connection globally. Many have criticised rising subscription prices, but an 871% rise in sign-ups between June 2011-2012 seems to suggest that consumers don’t mind paying extra.


However, it’s been over 4 years since Sweden rolled out their 4G capability and even now it is only available across 50% of the country. This is not unusual for the European rollout of 4G with countries such as France, Germany and the UK only seeing 70% coverage by the end of 2013.


Reports from July of this year cite nearly three-quarters of Europeans have no 4G (compared with 90% in the USA). Cyprus, Ireland and Malta have no 4G access at all. With most of Europe committed to LTE, could it be argued that the arrival of super-fast connectivity has in fact been a little slow? 


Federal Europe claims it is not to blame. Spectrum has been made widely available across the continent, the problem has been with the regional allocation. Auctioning and licensing delays has meant that operators, keen to make the most of this new revenue stream, have had to wait for regulatory matters to be resolved.


British mobile users have been able to utilise the 4G connectivity available from EE since early 2012, but only if they live in larger cities. Like most other European countries, there are some compatible handsets available, something developers will need to work on, as network providers in the UK predict 98% coverage towards the end of 2014 – as well as an increase in 4G usage. For example, Apple is yet to employ a full scale roll out of 4G capable iPhone 5S, across a far-from comprehensive list of countries and networks. Within Europe the device currently supports 850, 1800 and 2100 MHz capability. Only sixteen countries across Europe have any provision for 1800 MHz speed networks for 4G users – including Sweden, Italy and the UK - showing there is some way to go before the device has total European coverage. Critics have since stated the lack of smartphones currently supporting 4G is preventing it from becoming ‘truly mainstream’, the same can be said for accessible 4G networks. 


Unlike Sweden and the UK, the French 4G market was slow to roll out the technology to its users, despite the fact that it’s one of the few countries where Apple is supporting 4G on iPhones. The majority of big name French networks have cited 4G as a key objective in their next generation strategies for the coming years, securing a future for fast speed connections in France. Once again, regulatory issues have had an impact, it was only in March this year that the French regulator Arcep authorised Bouygues Telecom to refarm its 1800mhz spectrum to services outside GSM.


So, we’ve seen roll-outs of 4G across several major European countries, but many have been slow to implement wide spread coverage. The reason is a mixture of regulatory delays and a need from operators to understand the best way of keeping revenue flowing and meeting consumer needs. The arrival of 4G is still happening, with many countries predicting big things for users and data transfer speeds over the next 12 months.


When you sum all this up do I really think that 2014 will be a year for widespread adoption of LTE in EMEA? It's on the move but I doubt that 2014 year will be seen as the breakout year. 2015 though… that's likely to be a very different story.

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air jordans
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This is really nice to know. I hope it will be successful in the future. Good job on this and keep up the good work.
About the Author
As SVP and Head of Global Sales for SAP Mobile Services, I am responsible for the continued profitable growth of the company’s global messaging revenues across the telecommunications community and all other market verticals. During my 20 years working for companies in the mobile telecoms industry, I have been setting the strategic direction, selling solutions to businesses across all market segments and leading global commercial teams in a continuous changing marketplace. Follow us on twitter @SAPMobileSrvcs