INSIDE MOBILE: Why the Demand for Wireless Data Is Growing

Smartphones and tablet sales are growing like mad. Each of these mobile devices is using more rich media. Here, Knowledge Center mobile and wireless analyst J. Gerry Purdy explains why this combination is resulting in an explosion of demand for wireless data communications.

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Recently, I spoke at a RCR Wireless seminar in Atlanta on trends in wireless broadband-using cellular data communications to provide uploading and downloading of rich media such as photos, music and movies with your mobile devices.

The wireless operators are facing a tsunami in the growing demand for wireless data. It's like they are standing on the beach, holding an iPhone and iPad, and looking up to see a wall of white water moving toward shore and thinking, "I wonder what's causing that?"

The operators have a number of very smart people who study network demand. They all know the tsunami is about to hit-and hit very hard. As a result, many of them are looking for creative ways to offload the demand until they can build more advanced 4G networks that can hopefully keep up with users' appetite to send and receive videos, photos, animations and music.

The cause for the tsunami in wireless data demands is quite easy to understand. According to a forecast from Frost & Sullivan on the growth of share of smartphones (as a percentage of all phones shipped in North America from 2009 through 2015), the smartphone share of mobile handset subscribers is expected to rise from 23.9 percent in 2009 to 67.1 percent in 2015. Thus, there is going to be a complete reversal in the percentages, with the more basic feature phones plummeting, from 66.3 percent down to 22.9 percent of all mobile handset subscribers.