In coming years 5G adoption is expected to be relatively slow in Europe, similar to the roll out of 4G.

The likes of Vodafone, Orange, Deutsche Telekom and EE — four of the largest European operators — probably won’t roll out the next generation of mobile data tech before 2020, and even then will be focusing on dense urban areas.

That said, Scandinavia could get it a bit earlier.

Other large European operators are also unlikely to roll out it out until late 2020 or during 2021.

Here’s how the sales landscape is expected to look in 2022 for western Europe.

[verdict_chart id=”17916″]

There are a number of factors holding back 5G in Europe.

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By GlobalData

4G adoption is still less than 40 percent

This is compared to 56 percent in China, 60 percent in Japan, 70 percent in US and 76 percent in South Korea.

This means operators have been slower to invest in technology, coverage is lower in most cases, and the roll out of faster services such as LTE advanced has also lagged behind.

Operators may also want a good return on their 3G and 4G investments, before they invest substantial sums in 5G.

Lower fibre coverage

Only 40 percent of cell sites across Western and Eastern Europe are fibre connected, with higher availability in northern regions.

Fibre is required to transmit data between mobile base stations.

The regulatory environment

Regulation is less stable in a number of ways, with some early spectrum bands such as 28GHz not available, unlike elsewhere in the world, and debates about so-called net neutrality unresolved.

Site acquisition regulations tend to be tougher in Europe compared to the US or Asia.

Small scale deployment

So far there have been no large scale roll outs announced and plans are limited to public venues and companies.


The European Commission is working to push 5G in Europe through spectrum availability, promotion of early deployment and supporting collaboration.

GlobalData research estimates that 5G will represent just five percent of the total mobile subscriptions of major European mobile operators.

It will happen, just don’t hold your breath.