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Investments in rollout of 4G have almost been completed, apps save on data usage

The investments of the mobile operators show that the rollout of 4G has almost been completed. After an investment peak of EUR 2 billion in 2013, the amount has decreased to EUR 800 million in 2014. This is the conclusion of the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) in the Telecom Monitor for the past year, which was published today. Henk Don, Member of the Board of ACM, explains: “The introduction of 4G paved the way for fast internet on your smartphone, and 4G is used a lot today. Mobile data usage has doubled since.” This could be attributed to about four million consumers who use the internet on their telephones relatively frequently and extensively, for example to stream videos and music. In the space of one year, the number of customers using 4G has doubled to about 40 per cent, although the Telecom Monitor shows that the rapid growth in data usage is levelling off. Mr. Don explains: “In the next few years, many people will likely ‘automatically’ switch to 4G when renewing their contracts, but many of them are not expected to be large-scale data users.”

Apps

The tremendous growth in data usage is dampened somewhat as consumers are able to use mobile websites and apps. These mobile websites use much fewer MBs than regular websites made for desktops. Regular websites have extensive designs, which use up a lot of MBs to load. Apps only needs to be downloaded once. Afterwards, only the “new” data is exchanged, such as departure times for the next train, Doppler radar images for weather forecasts, or the latest news. This makes a huge difference. Mr. Don explains: “This means consumers save a lot, as they will use fewer MBs, and their data plans thus last longer, or they might switch to a smaller, cheaper data plan.”

Digital agenda

Another trend that the Telecom Monitor has revealed is that the investments in the fixed network have increased from EUR 1.3 billion in 2012 to EUR 1.7 billion in 2014. The main reason for this is that KPN is rolling out a fiber-optic network, while at the same time also modernizing its old copper network in order to enable fast internet. In addition, cable company Ziggo is increasing the speed of its network. Investments in faster internet are a good thing, because by 2020, all Europeans should have a broadband connection of at least 30 Megabit per second, according to the Digital agenda of the European Commission. This speed allows users to browse the Internet and watch television at the same time. Mr. Don explains: “We are going to meet those targets for 2020. In 2014, 46 percent of Dutch households had a subscription of 30 Mb per second. In 2020, 50 percent of European households should have a connection of 100 Mb per second, and in 2014, 16 percent of Dutch households already had such a connection. Such speeds enable families to browse the Internet, while simultaneously streaming television shows on, for example, their tablets.”

 

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