European telecoms weathering economic storm

Lowest prices and highest mobile broadband user penetration was observed in those countries where at least one independent challenger MNO was present

The European telecoms sector continued to grow throughout 2008 outperforming the rest of the regional economy, according to figures released by the European Commission this week.

Revenues delivered by the EU telecoms sector amounted to Eur300bn in 2008, up 1.3 per cent on 2007 and accounting for about 3 per cent of EU GDP. By comparison the rest of the economy only saw revenues increase 1 per cent compared to 2007.

Europe’s mobile penetration rate topped 119 per cent at the end of 2008, up 7 percentage points from 2007, remaining well ahead of the US with 87 per cent and Japan with 84 per cent. Mobile broadband, based on data card adoption, topped a penetration rate of 2.8 per cent in January of 2009.

The European Commission also said that consumers are benefiting more from increased competitiveness in the sector, with Brits seeing their average monthly mobile bill fall to £18.31 in 2008, down from £23.53 in 2007.

The UK is also fast adopting fixed broadband, with penetration reaching 28.4 per cent of the population in January 2009, up 2.7 percentage points compared to January 2008. In contrast, the EU’s fixed broadband penetration rate hit 22.9 per cent in January 2009.

The EC said the British market for fixed and mobile phone services is among the most competitive in the EU, with the largest mobile operator in the country only accounting for 25 per cent of all subscribers, the lowest share for a leading mobile operator in the union. In the fixed voice market, the share for the incumbent operator is again among the lowest in terms of revenue and traffic volume.

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