Filling Europe’s 5G coverage gaps

31 March 2021 | Consulting

Janette Stewart | Chris Nickerson


A new study by Analysys Mason, sponsored by Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. examines 5G investment and coverage per European market, and calculates costs and benefits of 5G coverage across different 5G use cases. 

The study considers the cost and extent of 5G coverage by population-led commercial deployments per European market using a combination of 700MHz, 3.5GHz and 26GHz bands, together with legacy mobile bands. The additional investment to extend 3.5GHz coverage beyond the population-led coverage to cover all road, rail and rural use cases (5G connectivity into homes and businesses via 5G FWA, and smart agriculture) is assessed along with the additional investment  to deliver near-universal geographic coverage using 700MHz spectrum. Population-led investment and further 3.5GHz coverage is assumed to be provided on a commercial basis via multiple networks, whereas 3.5GHz coverage beyond the commercial footprint and reaching near-universal geographic coverage using 700MHz spectrum assumes a single network infrastructure. 

Analysys Mason estimates the total cost of building and maintaining 5G networks across Europe will be EUR150 billion over the next 20 years. By 2025, the study estimates the population coverage of 3.5GHz services will range from 24% in Norway and 29% in Finland to 53% in Spain and to 68% in the United Kingdom, no longer part of the EU. At the same date, 41% of the French population is expected to be covered and 43% of Germany’s. Some smaller nations will have even less access to 3.5GHz services, including Slovakia (17%) and Slovenia (22%).  A further EUR20 billion (of which around EUR13 billion is assumed to be commercially delivered, with EUR7 billion funding via public subsidy) will complete the provision of 3.5GHz services (plus further deployment of 26GHz) across European markets covering roads, railways and agriculture areas. Providing near-universal geographic coverage per European market using a single network of 700MHz spectrum would require EUR4 billion of public funding.

Analysys Mason has also updated its earlier estimates provided to Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies Inc. of the increase in economic output that 5G enabled digital transformation will create. The new report forecasts that 5G could create additional gross domestic product in the EU of EUR250 billion, an increase on last year’s figure of EUR210 billion that reflects the inclusion of potential economic benefit derived from the healthcare, road and rail sectors (reflecting the updated coverage modelling that the study presents). 

A summary of the report is available here.

5G Geographic Study Executive Summary