BARCELONA (Reuters) - Europe does not have the catalysts for rapid, large-scale rollouts for next-generation 5G networks, Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri said on Sunday.
"Far and away, the U.S. and China activity will dwarf Europe... It is just lower than the rest of the markets," Suri told the Mobile World Congress.
He noted that existing 4G capacity in Europe needs to get soaked up before operators are prepared to invest in new networks.
Nonetheless, he held out hope for some European operators to start to move up to 5G next year.
"I think some 5G will be launched at some point in 2019, perhaps in second quarter or third quarter of next year."
The first commercial 5G roll-outs are due to begin this year and next in the United States, Korea and Japan, creating new revenue streams for operators and equipment makers.
Nokia, once the world-leading mobile phone maker which is now focused on networks, competes with Sweden's Ericsson and China's Huawei [HWT.UL].
(Reporting by Eric Auchard, editing by Jussi Rosendahl and Jane Merriman)