GSM also works in wide open spaces, especially using the lower 850/900MHz frequencies. Have you ever been to central or western Spain, or southwestern France; smaller remote Greek Islands. Perhaps not, otherwise you wouldn't assume [without knowing] that there aren't many places in Europe where you have to travel for several hours to get to the next closest town. Actually there are. That's why they have towers in remote places, on top of mountains, where there are no towns.
I took photos of my cell phone from the top of a mountain, in a medieval fortress, at least 30 km from a town. It shows all bars for reception. I also got all bars in the Mediterranean between islands, on a 6 hour ferry ride. Universal mobile and broadband are too important in those countries to rely on the kind of private companies we have here that care more about their bottom line than the customers they are ripping off. European mobile and broadband is also provided by private companies, as in the U.S., but there's real competition, and more demanding customers.
Sounds like you need more accurate information.
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