Lightning-fast mobile hits speed bump in Europe

Feb 25, 2013 by Emmanuelle Trecolle
Customers look at mobile phone accessories at a shop on November 27, 2012 in Paris. Lightning-fast fourth generation mobile networks are spreading rapidly worldwide, led by the United States, Japan and South Korea, but Europe lags behind and its economic crisis could brake investment, an industry report said Monday.

Lightning-fast fourth generation mobile networks are spreading rapidly worldwide, led by the United States, Japan and South Korea, but Europe lags behind and its economic crisis could brake investment, an industry report said Monday.

Next generation Long Term Evolution, or LTE, networks promise to as fast as fixed , opening the way to new mobile services such as high-definition videos with no buffering lag.

But the new networks need significant new investment by operators, and Europe has fallen behind, IDATE said in a 2013 report.

By mid 2012, 26.5 million people were subscribing to LTE services, it said.

US operators led by had 13 million customers on the new LTE networks, South Korean operators had 7.5 million subscribers and Japanese operators 3.4 million, it said.

But the report, released on the opening day of the world's biggest mobile fair in Barcelona, Spain, showed the biggest users of LTE networks in Europe were Germany and Sweden with 300,000 each, while Austria logged just 180,000.

"LTE technology has now been adopted in all areas of the world and is growing rapidly," the report said

An even faster technology, known as LTE Advanced, or True 4G, is expected to be rolled out this year with the United States, Japan and once again the front-runners, it said.

Some 350 were now investing in LTE in 104 countries, the report said.

"With the LTE ecosystem growing so rapidly, IDATE forecasts that there will be more than 912 million LTE subscribers worldwide by the end of 2016."

In 2016, Asia-Pacific nations would still be leaders, it predicted, with 41 percent of the world's LTE customers compared to 21 percent for North America and 16 percent for Western Europe.

A mobile phone mast on the rooftop of a residential building in Paris, December 10, 2012. Next generation Long Term Evolution, or LTE, networks promise download speeds to mobile phone users as fast as fixed broadband connections, opening the way to new mobile services such as high-definition videos with no buffering lag.

Europe had once been a leader, with launching the first fourth-generation network in Sweden and Norway at the end of 2009.

But no longer.

"Macro-economic constraints are slowing down rapid investments in LTE networks in Europe," the industry research house said.

Operators in Europe may choose to share the same LTE network so as to curb investment costs, it said.

"LTE is now a 'must have': operators which do not adopt the technology will lose ground in their market and will not benefit from the economies provided by LTE," IDATE warned.

Most operators were investing in LTE to gain additional capacity and drive down costs, it said.

"It has lots of advantages and will make a big difference in financial terms for operators, though not necessarily right away, without mentioning the faster speeds and new services," IDC frequency specialist Frederic Pujol told AFP.

A new generation of smartphones was now available in all main markets with the capacity to link to the new networks, removing a key obstacle to growth, IDATE said.

But the technology is not universal, with some 15 different bandwidths being used for fourth generation services, hampering international roaming.

IDATE notes that Apple's iPhone 5, for example cannot link to two fourth-generation frequencies used by several European nations—800 MHz and 2.6 GHz.

"Chip manufacturers are integrating more and more frequency bands into the chipset but you also have to integrate the antennas into the handsets," said Pujol.

"Some are not making the effort, like Apple with the iPhone 5, which does not support two of the three European bandwidths. But the problem for Apple should be fixed with the next iPhone," he said.

Explore further: Poor implementation may outweigh short-term benefits of Mexico's telecommunications reform

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

TD-LTE breakthroughs showcased at Mobile World Congress 2013

Feb 21, 2013

Nokia Siemens Networks is highlighting TD-LTE innovation at Mobile World Congress 2013 in Barcelona. This includes a demonstration of data traffic offloading between TD-LTE and FDD-LTE using the company's Single RAN Advanced Flexi Multiradio 10 Base Station and a commercially available du ...

Almost half of Americans yawn over 4G LTE

Aug 24, 2012

Who needs faster wireless networks? Nearly half of US consumers say they don't. A new survey finds that nearly half of U.S. consumers feel they just do not need 4G LTE. "Colossal power!" "Scorching speed!" ...

Recommended for you

WiFi hubs to replace New York pay phones

Nov 18, 2014

Thousands of high-tech terminals offering free WiFi and other services will soon replace New York's remaining fleet of seldom-used pay phones, the city mayor said Monday.

US spies on mobile phones from the sky, report says

Nov 14, 2014

US justice officials are scooping up mobile phone data from unwitting Americans as part of a sophisticated airborne surveillance program designed to catch criminals, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

PPihkala
not rated yet Feb 25, 2013
Obviously one has less cell towers to raise when population density is high, like in asian countries. Here in Finland some of our cities have such a low population density that in EU specs they are no cities at all, like Tampere.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.