The use of radio spectrum by mobile services is far more lucrative than any other use of spectrum, currently contributing €269 billion (£253bn) to the economies of the EU’s 27 member states, according to a new report from the GSM Association.

This compares to €22 billion contributed by wireless local area networks and €48 billion by terrestrial TV and radio broadcast. The high economic value placed on mobile services underscores the importance of constant connectivity in consumers’ lives, according to the Plum Report.

The GSMA predicts that the economic value of spectrum used for mobile could increase by 77 percent to €477 billion (£407bn) by 2023, assuming that sufficient spectrum is made available for mobile over this period. This will also rely on the development of EU-wide spectrum policy.

The predictions developed in the Plum Report are based on growing evidence that end users are willing to pay more for mobile services as they transition from 2G to 4G networks, reflecting the fact that 4G services offer much greater functionality than basic mobile services.

“Spectrum is an essential resource and governments play a critical role in ensuring that those receiving licences deliver services that will enhance the lives of consumers, create new business opportunities and drive economic growth in Europe,” said Tom Phillips, Chief Government and Regulatory Affairs Officer, GSMA.

“In this regard, governments face a tough choice and must turn to solid economic analysis to guide their decisions. This report clearly shows that mobile services contribute far more than any other application, now and over the long term.”

He added: “In times of economic downturn and budget cuts at the European and Member State level, it is particularly important to support mobile’s unique impact on Europe’s economy.”

The economic value of wireless local area networks – used to augment fixed broadband services, enable M2M communications and offload excess mobile data traffic – is also expected to grow over the next ten years, reaching €95 billion by 2023.

However, the value of terrestrial TV and radio broadcast is predicted to decline, as consumers move to paid-for satellite and cable platforms as well as Internet television and radio, and will be worth  just €25 billion to the European economy by 2023.

The majority of other spectrum applications, such as civil aviation and satellite communications, will see modest growth during the period, according to the report.

“I encourage the European Commission to take this analysis on economic value into serious consideration as it finalises its policy proposals on the single telecoms market,” said Phillips.

“It is vital that the European Union’s spectrum policies support long-term investment from mobile network operators to support the full potential of socio-economic benefits of mobile in Europe.”

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