A new wave of digital innovation is coming.
The way we interact with the internet looks set to change forever.
But Europe faces a problem. The way we fund internet infrastructure upgrades is broken.
Telecoms operators, big tech content creators and government must come together and find a way to fix it.
Telecoms technology is driving a revolution in the way we access, use and share data online. In this interactive story from Vodafone, discover what the future of connectivity really looks like - from 5G and the Internet of Things, to Artificial Intelligence and cloud-based networks - and what it could mean for you.
Connectivity is what allows you to use the internet. It’s how you message, video call or share with friends. How you research, learn and explore. How you work, network and build a business.
Everything you do on the internet depends on data transmission between your device and the network, whether that’s through your smartphone or home WiFi.
We call this data traffic.
Mobile and fixed network operators like Vodafone are responsible for making sure there is enough capacity or ‘space’ in the network to carry that traffic.
The more that traffic increases, the more space we need.
Connectivity in the future
The way we use the internet is continuously evolving.
Streaming is fast becoming the preferred way to watch our favourite programmes. Dancing on selfie-mode and uploading to social is becoming ever more popular. We have personal assistants in our homes, we’re using artificially intelligent chat bots.
A new wave of digital services is on the way – a metaverse supported by virtual and augmented realities, holographic video calls, driverless cars and so on.
All of this results in a huge rise in data traffic. And that is stretching our networks to the limit.
So, what’s the problem?
Networks need to be upgraded in Europe
Without the speed and reliability of modern networks like 5G and fibre broadband, European consumers and business will miss out on opportunities that are available to those living in other places like America or China, where network development is further ahead.
There’s a funding gap
Telecom operators like Vodafone have invested around €500 billion in network upgrades over the last ten years alone. But this is not enough.
An estimated €300 billion more is needed just to upgrade broadband to gigabit speeds and complete the 5G roll-out in Europe by 2030. And that figure is rising every year.
Data traffic has exploded
Since 2015, data traffic has grown by more than 600%. Average traffic in Europe doubled from 2021 to 2023.
This growth is being driven by just a handful of big companies – sometimes called over-the-tops (OTTs) or large traffic originators (LTOs) – who mostly offer digital services like video streaming, gaming or social media.
These companies promise their customers high-definition experiences, in real-time and without lag. But they don’t contribute towards the network upgrades needed to deliver those experiences.
That means telecoms companies are having to put other key projects, like expanding the network to reach rural areas, on hold while they focus on managing this traffic.
What’s the solution?
Europe has recognised the need for a new approach to how network upgrades are funded. A public consultation on the future of connectivity is currently underway, led by the European Commission, which asks for ideas on how to address the challenge.
Mobile network operators, OTTs and governments have a shared interest in finding a solution together that benefits all Europeans. We have a duty to ensure our customers can continue to access the best in connectivity and digital services.
Europe has said before that all companies benefitting from the evolving digital world should make, “a fair and proportionate contribution to the costs of public goods, services and infrastructures,” to benefit all Europeans.
Vodafone supports this message. Only through collaboration, across industries, with governments and the European Commission, can we ensure people in Europe have the digital opportunities they deserve.
No results found
More about Vodafone
Vodafone’s European high-speed connectivity, digital services and digital platforms are speeding up the EU's digital transition.