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Will 2007 Be the Year of Mobile Broadband?

According to a recent Strategy Analytics report, new alternative technologies will contribute just 6 percent of the forecast 500 million mobile broadband users globally by 2010.

Despite all the hype surrounding alternative technologies like WiMAX, it is iterations of existing technologies which will dominate the mobile broadband arena in the short term. What about the wild-card, free or low cost Wi-Fi hotspot services? Strategy Analytics doesn't offer an opinion.

They say that technologies such as mobile WiMAX and UMTS TDD will lead the alternative technology camp, but enhancements to existing technologies, including HSPA and EV-DO Revision A+ will comprise the bulk of the market and are where the money lies in the short-term.

"We’re not likely to see technologies like mobile WiMAX or indeed, anything else, really take off until the next decade," comments Sara Harris, Senior Industry Analyst at Strategy Analytics and author of this report. "However, HSPA and EV-DO will be more than acceptable for most users, giving them the speed and flexibility they want to use their fixed internet applications on the move."

I would have to disagree with the Strategy Analytics assessment. I believe that given the inability of mobile service providers to engage mainstream wireless broadband subscribers thus far, the market in 2007 onward is essentially an open field. In the absence of any clear momentum or market leaders, this scenario is poised awaiting a real consumer-centric service innovator.

If that innovator doesn't materialize in 2007, then my vote stays with Wi-Fi based open Internet access offerings. Advertiser supported hotspots and hotzones are the upside opportunity that is still to be fully harnessed. Regardless, the potential is clearly evident.

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