Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Friday, March 07, 2008

High-Priced U.S. Mobile Broadband Service

ComScore released the results of a study of U.S. Internet usage via mobile broadband. The study examined the usage and characteristics of mobile broadband users through data collected from computers where Internet access via mobile broadband Internet Service Providers (ISPs) occurred.

Mobile broadband employs cellular networks, where users pay subscriptions for access and the connection is made with a PC card, built-in adapter, or connections can be tethered via a cell-phone or PDA, and is different than Wi-Fi access, which is predicated on the availability of short range hot-spots where access fees often apply incrementally for each connection.

In 2007, Verizon and Sprint accounted for the majority of the mobile broadband market. AT&T has announced it will increase its coverage in 2008.

The number of computers using mobile broadband technology to access the Internet grew by 154 percent in Q4 2007 versus the same period in 2006.

"Though mobile broadband access is currently used by about 1 percent of the total U.S. Internet population it is poised for significant growth over the next few years," said Serge Matta, senior vice president of comScore. "As consumers increasingly demand and depend on portable Internet access, the demand for mobile broadband should continue to increase."

At this early stage of mobile broadband, usage appears to be more a function of need than want. In particular, mobile broadband shows a significantly higher presence on work computers (59 percent) than home / personal computers (41 percent).

Mobile broadband is also somewhat of a luxury, skewing strongly towards the highest income households. Those making at least $100,000 were 37 percent more likely than average to use mobile broadband and those with incomes below $25,000 were 41 percent less likely to do so.

"The mobile broadband market is ripening as we speak, and ISPs can benefit by increasing awareness that they have the services to meet their consumer's demands," added Matta. "Those ISPs that get ahead of the curve in understanding this emerging market will be best positioned to reap its rewards."