2008 European - Wireless Broadband Market

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Last updated: 11 Mar 2009 Update History

Report Status: Archived

Report Pages: 127

Publication Overview

This report covers developments in Europe’s wireless broadband market, assessing the relative strengths of the principal delivery platforms. It presents regional and national statistics and analyses on the market conditions which will affect how the sector is likely to progress in coming years.


The countries covered in this report include: Albania, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia (FYROM), Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and United Kingdom.


Researchers:- Henry Lancaster, Paul Kwon

Current publication date:- March 2009 (5th Edition)

Next publication date:- Jan 2010

Executive Summary

The increasing demand for broadband access among consumers, the regulatory emphasis on deregulation and competition, and the general move within Europe for broadband to be a universal service has focused greater attention on wireless solutions to complement fixed-line networks.


Despite continuing upgrades to cable and DSL networks, and the near-ubiquity of broadband in urban areas, there remain pockets within Europe where broadband is poor or unavailable. In these areas, WiMAX continues to provide a realistic alternative platform, while mobile broadband, based largely on HSPA technology and, from 2010, on LTE networks, will be able to compete with the fastest copper fixed-line offers now available. The EC and national regulators have also placed greater emphasis on releasing digital dividend spectrum for wireless broadband as it becomes available in individual markets during the next few years.


The European Commission has encouraged the development of wireless broadband as part of its i2010 Plan. In most countries, WiMAX services operate in licences-exempt frequency bands. To make access to the Internet more widespread, the EC opened substantial radio spectrum throughout the EU for wireless broadband. Access to spectrum aimed to make equipment cheaper and alleviate the overloading of spectrum already used for this purpose.


Key highlights:


Since 2000 the French government has implemented policies to boost investment in wireless network alternatives to France Telecom’s local loop. Following the first round of licences, in 2000, the platform largely failed as a result of a low demand for wireless services and the ill-prepared business plans of the operators. By 2008 a second round of licences had been awarded to 14 municipalities and five telcos. About 70% of transmission sites must be in non-urban zones, thus addressing ‘dead’ zones with no DSL coverage. The French government received €125 million in licensing fees, and it will also collect annual fees from the operators for the provision and use of frequencies. Although the new licenses gave credence to the renewed momentum in wireless broadband and of the regulator’s adaption of spectrum management methods, operators have made little headway in physical deployments, prompting the regulator to set a number of targets for December 2010.



Germany provided licensed WLL services as early as 1999, though despite early promise the platform did not take off, inhibited by costly hardware and poor marketing strategies among operators. In 2002 a number of failed enterprises had return their licenses, but by 2004 renewed interest enabled the regulator to proceed with awarding three licences in the 3.5GHz band, primarily for subscriber access. The licensees were given strict coverage targets, incorporating 25% of communes by 2011.


The UK

Spectrum is a major asset to the UK, and the anticipated availability of spectrum in the lower frequency band from 2012, following the switch-off of analogue TV, will provide an opportunity for operators to deliver broadband services to both remote and urban areas currently underserved by fixed-line infrastructure. This would also go some way to meeting the government’s Digital Britain target of providing a service of at least 2Mb/s for every household by 2010. Demand from commercial operators for certain frequencies already exceeds availability. Since 2004 the regulator has aimed at removing specific licence requirements from defined frequency allocations and allowed the market to determine which services were offered. It has also hoped to address the dearth of spectrum by auctioning spectrum in several bands, including spectrum in the 10GHz, 28GHz, 32GHz and 40GHz frequencies on a technology and application-neutral basis (except for licences for 10GHz frequencies which will be restricted to fixed systems and wireless cameras).


Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.

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