GSMA report makes policy recommendations for Europe

Anne Bouverot, director general, GSMA

Anne Bouverot, director general, GSMA

The GSMA has issued a fresh call for policy overhaul in the European mobile sector in a bid to bring the region up to speed with the world’s leading markets. Spectrum harmonisation, the removal of barriers to consolidation and freedom from close regulator control on pricing are essential to the sector’s improvement, the group said.

Despite having the highest unique subscriber penetration rate in the world, Europe is the only region in which revenues are declining, the GSMA said. From 2010 to 2012 overall European mobile revenues fell from €162bn to €151bn and intense levels of competition in the region are a significant cause.
With more than 100 mobile operators and almost 530 MVNOs, the group said, the EC needs to “reduce barriers to efficient market consolidation by simplifying merger reviews and taking a more cautious approach to the imposition of remedies.”
The GSMA also highlighted a lack of coordination in spectrum allocation, warning that only half of the 1200MHz of spectrum that the EU has indicated needs to be allocated by 2015 to cope with growth in demand has actually been released. The problem is compounded by delays in issues the Digital Dividend spectrum in some markets. The GSMA said there could be additional tax revenues of €23bn generated across the rest of this decade as this spectrum is released.
The operator group has long objected to regulatory intervention on pricing and reiterated its stance that operators and competition should decide what service charges should be applied. “In order for operators to continue developing new services they must be free to create business and pricing models that are better aligned with the services that consumers desire and are willing to pay for,” it said.
“Europe was long viewed as a pioneer in mobile, but is now lagging behind other regions in the deployment of mobile broadband, particularly in 4G/LTE,” said Anne Bouverot, director general at the GSMA.  “Despite this, the mobile industry can play a key role in the European recovery, but this will require policy that encourages investment in mobile broadband connectivity, enables innovation and helps build consumer confidence in mobile services. This should be at the heart of the Commission’s planned proposals on a single telecoms market.”
The GSMA has issued a report of its findings, Mobile Economy Europe 2013, which can be downloaded from its website.

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