Wednesday 26 October 2011

EU Digital Agenda: ICT markets and information society

The latest roundups of my blog posts in the trilingual series about EU and national information society strategies can be found in the entries Euroopan digitaalistrategia – kirjoitussarja FI SV EN and Digital Agenda: EU and national FI SV EN.

I commented briefly on one of the cornerstones of the Digital Agenda for Europe in the blog post EU electronic communications market(s) at Digital Agenda start.

This was the communication COM(2010) 253 final/3, which exists in 22 official EU languages, but the version in force seems to be the third revision. We went to the English pdf version of the 15th report:

Annule et remplace le document COM(2010) 253 final du 25.5.2010
Concerne toutes les versions linguistiques



We saw that telecoms networks and services are sorted under the Commission's Information Society web pages eCommunications.

The web page 15th Progress report on the Single European Electronic Communications Market - 2009 offered us access to the communication COM(2010) 253 in 22 EU languages, as well as to the two parts of the accompanying Commission staff working document SEC(2010) 630 final/2 with much more detail (English only), including the Country chapters (Annex 1 in Part 1 or separately).

SEC(2010) 630 final/2

Relatively short communications often build on more detailed documents intended for specialists. In most cases they are available only in English.

In this case the accompanying Commission staff working document comes with a warning:

Annule et remplace le document SEC(2010) 630 final du 25.5.2010


It is a hefty document - 422 pages. The first 79 pages are dedicated to an overview of market and economic developments, as well as regulatory developments, while Annex 1 from page 80 deals with implementation in the individual EU member states.

Let us take a look at some basic economic facts: revenues, investment, mobile market concentration, mobile communications and fixed broadband growth.


An introductory paragraph on revenues offers us a picture of the economic importance of electronic communications and the European ICT sector in general (in 2008; page 4):

Revenues for the EU electronic communications sector were €351 billion in 2008 in the EU, which account for about half of the ICT sector overall. Seven of the ten largest telecoms operators in the world are European. 43% of the sector revenues are driven by fixed voice telephony and broadband (both business and private users), 47% are provided by mobile communications (voice and data), with the remaining 10% from Pay TV.


The financial and economic uncertainty and crisis curtailed investment in the telecoms sector in 2008 (page 5):

Investment by the EU electronic communication sector accounted for €47 billion in 2008, which represents a drop of 1.5% on 2007. Investment in the fixed market accounted for 70% of the total (incumbents are responsible for 70% of that figure) while the mobile sector was responsible for the remaining 30%.

In a majority of member states the commercial launch of LTE (Long Term Evolution) had been delayed until 2010-2011, with extensive deployment expected in 2013-2014 (page 6).

Mobile market concentration

The study noted that the top 10 mobile operators concentrate 90% of the market (page 7, footnote 10) and described the situation (page 7) in the mobile markets:

The four main groups are present in the majority of Member States (in the form of subsidiary, joint venture or commercial agreement) and they own the first and/or second largest mobile operator in almost all EU Member States (except in Denmark, Latvia and Finland). Most of the main mobile operators are subsidiaries of fixed incumbents. The only large European group which is not the subsidiary of a fixed incumbent has now entered the fixed market to complement its activities (in order to be able to supply convergent offers, e.g. quadrupleplay). While half of European operators are not part of these groups, these represent only 20% of the European market.

Mobile communications

The study noted that the approach to auctioning of spectrum licences had led to a national focus which had not yet translated into pan European services (page 7).

Mobile internet still drove only 4% of the total revenue with significant divergence across member states (page 8). However, the mobile broadband market was emerging rapidly.

Mobile voice penetration in the EU reached 121.9% and, as expected, its growth rate in 2009
had begun to stabilise (+2.5%) (page 10).

Fixed broadband

According to the study (page 19):

In January 2010 there were 123.7 million fixed broadband lines, up 9.3% since January 2009, and the EU average fixed broadband penetration rate reached 24.8%, up 2percentage points over one year.

Internationally, in 2009 the Netherlands and Denmark continued to have the highest broadband penetration rates, followed by Sweden, Finland and Luxembourg, which had penetration levels above 30% of the population, along with a group of four non-EU countries, Norway, Switzerland, Korea and Iceland (page 22).


Even if not sizzling hot, I found the economic facts and market trends quite interesting, both with regard to the European Union as a whole and concerning the huge differences between individual member states.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. Dear Readers, I am still interested in Digital Agendas (language versions), as well as information society plans and ICT actions in the member states of the European Union. If you know something, you can use the comment section or email me.

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