(Reuters) – European mobile data traffic will triple by 2028 driven by the adoption of 5G and migration into 4G, which continue to put pressure on network investments, telecom industry group GSMA said on Thursday.
The GSMA, which brings together more than 1,000 mobile phone operators and businesses, said 5G subscribers were interested in adding high-bandwidth services and content to their mobile contracts, as demand for high-quality gaming, extended reality, and video content grows.
Mobile data traffic per smartphone will increase in Western Europe to 56 gigabytes (GB) per month in 2028, compared with 20 GB last year. In Central and Eastern Europe, it will rise to 37 GB per month from 14 GB in 2022, the lobby group said in its annual mobile economy report.
It said growing demand meant operators would need to keep investing in mobile networks. They are already expected to spend more than 198 billion euros ($216 billion) by 2030 to upgrade their networks.
European telecom groups, including Orange, Telefónica and Telecom Italia, have pushed for years for Big Tech such as Alphabet, Meta, Netflix, Microsoft and Amazon to help pay for the rollout of 5G and broadband, because they make up a huge part of internet traffic.
However, they will likely have to wait until 2025 for the next European Commission to decide whether to propose rules to this end, Reuters reported in October citing people familiar with the matter.
“We’re encouraged to see European policymakers now facing up to that reality and examining the potential for meaningful policy change on areas such as consolidation, spectrum harmonization and the creation of fairer investment models for infrastructure,” Daniel Pataki, head of Europe for the GSMA, said in a statement.
More than 460 million Europeans, or 85% of the population, were connected to mobile internet in 2022, according to the GSMA.
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(Reporting Diana Mandiá, editing by Milla Nissi and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)