Mobile Broadband Subscriptions to Hit $1B Mark in 2011: Ericsson

 
 
By Nathan Eddy  |  Posted 2011-01-11
 
 
 

Last year, mobile broadband subscriptions surpassed the half-billion mark globally, and mobile phone maker Ericsson is now estimating that this number will double before 2011 ends.

The greatest number of subscriptions, around 400 million, is expected to be concentrated in the Asia-Pacific, followed by North America and Western Europe, with more than 200 million subscriptions each. By 2015, Ericsson officials said they believe mobile broadband subscriptions will top 3.8 billion, with 95 percent driven by HSPA (High-Speed Packet Access), CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) and LTE (Long-Term Evolution) networks.

According to the GSA (Global Mobile Suppliers Association), as of November 2010, more than 99 percent of the world's W-CDMA (Wideband-CDMA) operators had deployed HSPA on their networks.

"Mobile broadband adoption has accelerated with strong growth of smartphones, connected laptops and tablets, supported by the introduction of high-performance networks," Ericsson reported in a statement. "Smartphones' users are increasingly using applications and Internet services on the go. Global mobile data traffic continues to grow rapidly, with Ericsson announcing in August 2010 that it had tripled in just one year."

The company noted that last year was also a good one for LTE. To date, Ericsson has signed commercial LTE (core and/or access) contracts with 11 operators worldwide. Almost half of a total of 16 networks Ericsson delivered have been commercially launched. "Users' consumption of the Internet and other media is changing as a result of the introduction of fast networks and the availability of various types of devices, including smartphones," a company statement said.

According to TeliaSonera's survey of its LTE users, about 23 percent of them now watch more online TV, and in excess of 46 percent, surf the Web more frequently when away from home. Ericsson said due to increased speed and reduced latency, LTE networks enable video streaming, which also attracts new professional users such as TV broadcasters and public safety organizations.

While Ericsson's report focuses on mobile broadband subscriptions, a recent report from ABI Research found the simpler act of text messaging is also growing at a rapid rate. According to ABI Research estimates, more than 7 trillion SMS (Short Message Service) communications will be sent worldwide in 2011, from nearly 4.2 billion mobile subscriptions. Messaging is also more prevalent among younger subscribers, and as they replace older subscribers, messaging will get a further boost. Messaging includes four types of communication: SMS, MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service), mobile e-mail and instant messaging.

According to ABI analyst Aapo Markkanen, when these trends toward commoditization are combined with the wider adoption of mobile e-mail and IM services, the revenue proportion of SMS and MMS against the market total is expected to decline.

E-mail has the advantage of familiarity for many consumers, Markkanen noted. "Due to relatively low PC penetration in emerging regions, for many consumers across Latin America, Africa and south Asia, mobile devices will provide the primary screen for accessing e-mail," Markkanen said. "This won't be restricted to smartphones: Many companies are developing solutions to allow more basic handsets to handle e-mail."

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