214 mn 5G connections in Europe

Countries like Germany, UK and France is expected to take lead in terms of 5G connections

In 2025, 5G connections will be the highest in Asia Pacific followed by Europe and North America. Asia Pacific will account for the largest share thanks to China, India, Japan and Korea whereas North America will be largely driven by USA and Canada.   

Having lagged on the development and rollout of 4G, the European Commission is attempting to take a leadership role in 5G. The Commission’s 5G Action Plan set out the technology and regulatory requirements, while the 5G-PPP (public-private partnership) project put forward by the Commission is contributing to the research, development and standardisation of the technology.

According to GSMA, more than 30 per cent of Europe’s mobile connections will be 5G. The first commercial 5G networks in Europe is expected to be switched on by 2020 and 5G is expected to provide network coverage to almost three-quarters of Europe’s population by 2025.

Europe is the most highly penetrated mobile region in the world and as on mid-2017, 84 per cent of population i.e. 457 million unique mobile subscribers subscribed to mobile services. As of end of 2016, there are 226 million 4G connections in Europe and it is expected that in 2017, 4G connections will overtake 3G connections as 4G is expected to reach 61 per cent of the total by 2020. 

4G networks are also set to evolve and grow in popularity well into the 5G era, supporting higher speeds via network upgrades based on MIMO (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) and carrier aggregation technologies.

Early 5G networks will be based on 3GPP Release 15 and will be deployed in dense urban areas as mobile operators look to increased performance and supplement existing mobile broadband capacity. 5G’s next phase, based on 3GPP Release 16, will bring further enhancements to mobile data, and the rest of the commercial requirements including massive IoT and critical communication services.

By 2025, 5G coverage is expected to reach almost three quarters of the population in Europe with Germany, UK and France expected to lead in terms of 5G connections. 5G will start to be rolled out across most major European markets in 2020. Nevertheless, this divergence in adoption is expected to draw close to parity by 2025. Coverage of 5G is expected to reach 73% of the population by 2025. The countries expected to lead in terms of 5G connections are Germany (37 million, 33.6% adoption), the UK (34 million, 43.7%) and France (32 million, 47.6%).  

Europe 5G Forecast:

Year – Subscribers (in mn) 

2020 – 2 

2021 – 20 

2022 – 61 

2023 – 115 

2024 – 167 

2025 – 214 

Source: GSMA 

Europe 5G Breakup (in 2025)*

Germany – 37 mn 

UK – 34 mn 

France – 32 mn 

* Stands for forecast

Source: GSMA 

“Europe has an opportunity to reestablish itself as a global technology leader as we move toward the 5G era, but this can only happen if policy makers move quickly and boldly to make the necessary regulatory reforms to boost the region’s competitiveness on the global stage and bring innovative services to Europe’s citizens,” said Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA. 

“A forward-looking regulatory environment designed to encourage long-term investment and innovation in Europe’s digital infrastructure is essential to maintaining a vibrant European mobile ecosystem and delivering the European Commission’s vision for a ‘Gigabit Society’,” added Granryd. 

“Europe needs a holistic policy and regulatory framework that reinforces its position as a preferred location for investment and innovation,” commented Granryd. 


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