ETNO: Europe’s telecom sector faces challenges in innovation and competitiveness

Europe’s telecom industry is at a pivotal moment as innovative connectivity becomes vital for competitiveness and security. Europe lags behind Asia and North America in 5G SA networks and edge cloud offers

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Europe’s telecommunications industry is facing significant challenges in innovation, investment, and competitiveness, according to the “State of Digital Communications 2024″ report released by ETNO, Europe’s telecom association. ETNO highlights the urgent need for telecom policy as the sector eagerly awaits the new “Connectivity package on digital infrastructure” by the European Commission.

Report is showing the lack of progress in adopting innovative technologies such as 5G Standalone (5G SA), Open RAN, and edge cloud. Europe falls behind both Asia and North America in these areas.

While 80% of Europe’s population had 5G coverage in 2023, it still falls behind countries like South Korea and the US, which achieved 98% coverage. In terms of gigabit-capable coverage in fixed networks, Europe achieves 79.5%, lower than South Korea, the US, and Japan. However, Europe has made progress in FTTH coverage, with 63.4% of the population having access in 2023, up from 55.6%.

Financial challenges faced by the European telecoms sector are also highlighted. The European telecom market remains fragmented, with numerous mobile operating groups, unlike more consolidated markets in the US and certain Asian countries. Europe has 45 large mobile operating groups, while the US has only 8, and China, Japan, and South Korea have 4 and 3, respectively.

Why does it matter?

ETNO underscores the importance of a pro-innovation industrial policy and the achievement of a true European telecom single market to address challenges and ensure Europe’s position in the connectivity ecosystem.