As the new year unfolds, Vodafone has released a compelling report, underscoring the urgent need for regulatory reforms to bolster Europe’s telecommunications sector. The report, titled “Why Telecoms Matters,” paints a stark picture of the challenges Europe currently faces, emphasizing the pivotal role of mobile technology and digital transformation in overcoming these obstacles.
The document raises concerns about the sluggish pace of 5G Standalone (SA) deployment in Europe, a critical factor in the continent’s dwindling competitive edge. According to the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA), the number of operators investing in public 5G SA networks globally has only moderately increased from 112 to 121 over the past year. This growth pales in comparison to the 582 operators investing in non-standalone 5G, revealing a significant “connectivity chasm” between Europe and other regions.
Vodafone’s analysis points to a worrying trend in European economic performance. Over the past 50 years, GDP growth has drastically reduced from 4% to 1%, and the growth rate of labour productivity has halved since the 1990s. Moreover, while GDP per capita in the United States has surged by nearly 50%, Europe’s has remained stagnant.
The telecommunications giant argues that digitalization is the key to reversing this downward spiral. It estimates that embracing digital transformation could add a market equivalent to the size of the Netherlands to the European economy, presenting a €1 trillion opportunity for the EU. However, Vodafone expresses concern that the current regulatory framework hampers the timely deployment of networks necessary to harness these economic benefits.
Vodafone’s report also hints at a need for a comprehensive overhaul of the Single Market to stimulate European competitiveness and facilitate digital transformation. While specifics of the proposed regulatory changes are reserved for a subsequent report, it’s speculated that Vodafone will advocate for relaxed restrictions on market consolidation and the ability to levy charges on tech giants for data usage.
With the Mobile World Congress (MWC) approaching and Vodafone CEO Margherita Della Valle scheduled to speak, further insights into the company’s vision for revamping Europe’s telecom landscape are eagerly anticipated.