Only one-quarter of Europeans can get 4G access

According to the EC, most of Europe - and almost all of its rural residents - live within reach of 4G coverage.

Three-quarters of the EU has no 4G coverage, and fourth generation services are practically non-existent in rural areas.

According to the European Commission, only one-quarter of the EU's population lives within reach of a 4G LTE network. For those living in more remote areas, that figure drops to practically zero, the EC said on Thursday.

At the 4G-free end of the spectrum are three countries with no operators offering fourth-generation services: Cyprus, Malta and Ireland. There are, however, three countries with what the EC calls an "advanced 4G rollout": Germany, Estonia , and Sweden.

Unsurprisingly, EC digital chief Neelie Kroes puts the relative lack of 4G down to the EU's fragmented telecoms market – Kroes is planning to introduce legislation in the autumn that will pave the way for a single telecoms market in Europe – as well as problems with spectrum harmonisation.

"National level problems [with spectrum allocation] have caused procedural and licensing delays, while auctioning processes have left mobile operators with little cash for roll-out networks once they have secured the right to do so. Combined with the fragmentation of 28 national markets, it means the mobile operators have no real possibility to develop and EU-wide mobile strategy," the EC said.

Earlier this week, the EC announced that less than half of EU countries have freed up the 800MHz spectrum band, as they had promised to do by the start of this year, for reuse by 4G services.

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