Europe slow to adopt 4G mobile: sector execs

Wed Sep 28, 2011 10:08am EDT
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By Leila Abboud and Marie Mawad

PARIS (Reuters) - Europe's rollout of fourth-generation mobile networks is trailing major operators in the United States and parts of Asia which are already offering the service to millions of customers.

In interviews at the Broadband World Forum in Paris, telecom equipment makers and operators said construction of super-fast mobile networks had begun in Germany and Nordic markets including Norway and Sweden.

But other major markets such as France, Spain, Italy and Britain will not start building out of so-called LTE (Long Term Evolution) technology in earnest until 2013 since regulators there were still auctioning 4G licenses.

"Europe is lagging behind," said Philippe Keryer, head of gear maker Alcatel-Lucent's sales to operators worldwide. "Elsewhere, the LTE phenomenon has already begun."

The issue is on the radar of the European Commission and some national governments, which fear their economies will be less competitive as a result.

With the advent of smartphones and tablet computers, people connect increasingly to the web to browse, play games or watch video, leading to an explosion of data traffic on mobile networks.

Telecom operators are responding with a slew of new technologies, including everything from 4G to offloading traffic to fixed networks over Wi-Fi, to try to keep up.

Their aim is also to bring down the cost per bit of transmitting mobile data, so as to protect their profitability.   Continued...

<p>Konrad von Finckenstein, the chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, waits to testify before the Commons industry committee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa February 3, 2011. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>