Spectrum use in Finland and the UK versus Germany
March 2014
According to data reported by the national regulatory authorities and presented in the first release (1H2014) of the DFMonitor the average monthly mobile data consumption per capita varies greatly across EU28. In 2012 the Finnish consumed on average 1.49 Gigabyte every month while the British 0.38 Gigabyte. The Germans on the other hand consumed a dismal 0.15 Gigabyte every month. Why do consumers in competitive markets (where a challenger operator is present) consume up to 10 times more mobile data than consumers in protected markets such as Germany? Are Germans less eager users of the internet?

According to European Commission Digital Scoreboard Germans are as almost as hungry internet users as British and Finnish. Both in terms of regular and frequent internet users Germany is closely following Finland and the UK (80% of the individuals are regular internet users in Germany versus 87% in the UK and 89% in Finland while 68% of the individuals are frequent internet users in Germany versus 78% in the UK and 80% in Finland). So why do the Germans use 2.5 times less mobile data than the British and 10 times less than the Finnish? Why do European challenger operator group customers e.g. Hutchison use on average 1.5GB/month like the Finnish and Swedish while other European incumbent operator group customers use ten times less?

Well simply because in the German protected mobile market operators are collectively suppressing consumer demand; by keeping Gigabyte volume prices artificially high, by over pricing full 3G/4G speeds (available on high-end plans) and by applying tethering and other net-neutrality restrictions (e.g. VoIP blocking). As a result mobile operators are not really putting the spectrum that was licensed to them into efficient use. The collective German mobile operator spectrum use (Megabyte/month/capita/MHz) is almost 5 times less of the UK operators and more than 11 times less of the Finnish operators as shown in the chart below.
2014
Finland
United Kingdom
Germany
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When LTE base stations are upgraded to 'Gigabit' speed the gigabyte volume capacity of the networks also greatly expands. We modelled LTE network capacity based on existing FDD and TDD spectrum holdings (and potential acquisitions in 2.3 and 3.4-3.8 GHz bands) and sizes of the macro site grids. Without and with Massive MIMO in the TDD bands. Topical for operators contemplating fixed-to-mobile broadband substitution ahead of upcoming 700, 1500 (SDL), 2300, 3400-3600 MHz spectrum auctions.

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