KPN chief executive Eelco Blok on Tuesday talked up the need for scale in the telecoms industry, but would not be drawn on whether his company plans to participate in any consolidation.
"In the U.S. you have seven mobile operators serving a few hundred million customers. In China you have three operators serving some 1.2 billion potential customers. In Europe you have 150 mobile operators," he highlighted during a keynote presentation at Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam.
Blok's point was that there are too few end users in Europe spread between too many operators, which goes some way to explaining why telcos in the region are struggling to grow revenues and being reticent about large-scale network investment.
"Scale in this business is very, very important," he added.
However, during the Q&A that followed, Blok, whose company KPN recently attracted a new investor in the form of America Movil, declined to comment on whether the Dutch incumbent will be an active participant in any consolidation.
In addition, Blok also warned that while Europe has already fallen behind the U.S. in terms of high-speed mobile broadband, the continent is also lagging when it comes to the availability of next-generation access (NGA) technology.
"There are only a few countries in Europe where NGA networks are being rolled out in a meaningful way," he claimed.
Blok's sentiments echoed the warning delivered by the EU's digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes, who earlier in the day called on policy makers to spur network investment as a matter of urgency.