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US mobile networks superior to European counterparts, report shows

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And Americans are taking full advantage

GSMA Mobile World Congress stock
GSMA Mobile World Congress stock

A GSMA report has revealed the growing gap in both quality and usage of US and European Union (EU) mobile networks. For many years, Europe had the upper hand over the US when it came to mobile networks. Large parts of the continent had widespread 3G access, and were quick to improve on the services with HSPA and HSPA+ rollouts. The US reacted by increasing its spend on infrastructure by 70 percent over the past six years, while the infrastructure spend in the EU actually declines over the same period. This led to the launch of LTE in the US, and a total reversal of fortunes.

Americans use twice as much data as Europeans

On average, data connection speeds in the US are 75 percent faster than EU connections, and the GSMA estimates that that figure will rise by 2017, when US speeds could be double that of the EU's. Likely due to the rise of LTE, the average US user now consumes more than twice the data of an EU resident. That figure will probably rise further, as by the end of the year 20 percent of US mobiles will be connected to an LTE network, while only two percent of EU connections will be on LTE.

Killing roaming fees could reignite Europe's mobile market

So what can EU nations do to change things? The GSMA believes the secret is in faster spectrum allocation — some member states have been extremely slow to auction off spectrum vital to the rollout of LTE — and it also wants to see "harmonized spectrum" across the EU, allowing phones to operate normally no matter what country they're in. Another key element to increasing mobile use is creating a single European market. People travelling across Europe are currently liable to pay high roaming fees, and while the situation has improved over recent years, the EC vice president Neelie Kroes is calling for an end to roaming fees in 2014.