Telecom CEOs: US regulators better than Europe (Update 2)

Feb 25, 2013 by Peter Svensson

(AP)—The CEOs of AT&T, Vodafone and Telefonica—three of the world's largest cellphone companies—had some rare words of praise for U.S. regulators Monday, saying they're doing better than their European counterparts in promoting faster wireless data networks.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson told an audience at Mobile World Congress, the world's largest cellphone trade show, that the U.S. government's practice of selling phone companies large swathes of space of the airwaves for perpetual use was helping encourage companies, including AT&T, to build out large networks using the latest "LTE" technology.

By contrast, many European countries lease out space on their airwaves for eight- to 15-year terms. The perpetual licenses in the U.S. gives phone companies the incentive to invest, Stephenson said. The large, contiguous slices of spectrum the U.S. sold in its latest auctions make it easy to build fast networks, he added.

He was joined in a panel discussion by Vittorio Colao, the CEO of British-based Vodafone Group PLC and Cesar Allerta, his counterpart at Spain's Telefonica SA, both of whom agreed with him. Vodafone and Telefonica have wide international holdings.

Verizon Wireless launched LTE service in the U.S. in 2010, followed by AT&T the year after. Both are using airwaves that regulators reclaimed from TV broadcasters—a process that has run slower in Europe.

The cellphone trade show is being held in Barcelona, Spain, a country that illustrates the slow build-out of LTE in Europe. There are some LTE pilot projects in the country, but no plans for full nationwide build-outs. There are exceptions in Europe, like Sweden, where four phone companies offer LTE mobile services.

According to trade group 4G Americas, there were 33 million LTE-capable devices in North America at the end of last year, representing 52 percent of global LTE connections. Japan and South Korea also have strong LTE networks. The GSM Association, which organizes the show, said Europe accounts for 6 percent of global LTE devices.

Still, a recent industry study has found greater competition among LTE providers in Europe, leading to lower prices for European consumers.

The study published last October by Wireless Intelligence, part of the GMS Association, found a gigabyte of data cost $2.50 on a European LTE plan, about half the global average of $4.86.

In Sweden, which became the first country to switch on a commercial LTE network in 2009, an LTE contract can cost as little as $0.63 per gigabyte. The study compared this to U.S. operator Verizon's best value 4G data tariff, which cost $7.50 per gigabyte at the time.

By mid-2012 there were 38 operators offering LTE across 18 European markets—almost half of the global total—the study found.

Explore further: Creating the fastest outdoor wireless Internet connection in the world

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Verizon to auction spectrum worth billions

Apr 18, 2012

Verizon Wireless on Wednesday said it will auction a parcel of radio frequencies, which could be worth billions of dollars in an industry scrambling to offer consumers more cellular broadband.

Cell execs say more steps needed to meet demand

Mar 23, 2010

(AP) -- Cell phone company executives support a proposal by federal regulators to find more wireless spectrum for mobile broadband services, but say the industry needs to do more to help networks keep up with the demand ...

Exec predicts data-only phone plans in 2 years

Jun 01, 2012

(AP) — The CEO of AT&T Inc. said Friday that cellphone plans that count only data usage are likely to come in the next two years. In such a scenario, phone calls and texts would be considered as just another form of ...

AT&T talks of spectrum shortage, yet it has plenty

Mar 21, 2011

(AP) -- AT&T says it wants to buy T-Mobile USA to acquire more airwaves to support the growing use of data-hungry devices such as the iPhone. But if that's the case, the T-Mobile deal isn't much of a solution.

Verizon pays $3.6 bn to buy spectrum from cable firms

Dec 04, 2011

US cellphone giant Verizon Wireless said Friday it will pay $3.6 billion to buy wireless spectrum from three leading cable providers which are bowing out of plans to plunge into the cellphone business.

Recommended for you

Impoverished North Korea falls back on cyber weapons

9 hours ago

As one of the world's most impoverished powers, North Korea would struggle to match America's military or economic might, but appears to have settled on a relatively cheap method to torment its foe.

Five ways to make your email safer in case of a hack attack

9 hours ago

The Sony hack, the latest in a wave of company security breaches, exposed months of employee emails. Other hacks have given attackers access to sensitive information about a company and its customers, such as credit-card ...

2012 movie massacre hung over 'Interview' decision

10 hours ago

When a group claiming credit for the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment threated violence against theaters showing "The Interview" earlier this week, the fate of the movie's big-screen life was all but ...

User comments : 0

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.