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Predicting the Future of Mobile Broadband

Wireless broadband market penetration expectations are on the rise, once again. Mobile broadband will generate more than $400 billion in service revenues in 2012, according to a new strategic report from Informa Telecoms & Media.

"Mobile broadband will represent close to half of total mobile service revenues in 2012, making it one of the largest and most strategically important segments of the mobile industry," says Mike Roberts, Principal Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media and lead author of the Future Mobile Broadband report.

The report provides in-depth analysis and forecasts on all major mobile broadband technologies including HSDPA, HSUPA, HSPA+, LTE, EV-DO, EV-DO Revision A, EV-DO Revision B, UMB, WiMAX, TD-SCDMA and TD-CDMA. It includes detailed case studies of leading mobile broadband operators, infrastructure vendors and device suppliers.

Detailed subscriber and device forecasts in the report find that HSPA will be the leading mobile broadband system in 2012 by number of subscribers, followed by EV-DO and Mobile WiMAX. EV-DO will have the most subscribers at end-2007 but will be overtaken by HSDPA in 2009. TD-SCDMA will also become a significant force in the mobile broadband market with close to 50 million subscribers in China by 2012.

"Mobile WiMAX will be the leading next-generation system based on OFDMA and MIMO in 2012 given its two-year head-start in the market, but LTE will overtake it in the long run due to the huge installed base of WCDMA/HSPA operators that plan to deploy LTE," Roberts notes.

In June 2007 there were already more than 200 commercial mobile broadband networks worldwide with more than 50 million subscribers using hundreds of different mobile, portable and fixed devices to generate billions of dollars in service revenues.

"Mobile broadband is already a significant market but will explode in the next five years as networks, devices and services mature and spark mass-market adoption," Roberts says.

But the scale of the opportunity means that vendors and operators with the wrong strategies will suffer.

“Mobile broadband is a turning point for the mobile industry -- as it was for the fixed-line industry when it transitioned from dial-up to broadband," Roberts says. "As in the fixed market, the transition to broadband is an opportunity for new entrants and innovative incumbents to take market share from slower rivals."

The report finds that rapid adoption of mobile broadband will lead it to become the dominant broadband platform worldwide in 2011, when mobile broadband services based on HSPA, EV-DO, WiMAX and other systems will have more subscribers than fixed broadband services based on DSL, cable and FTTH.

Overall there will be more than one billion broadband subscribers worldwide in 2011, with the majority using mobile rather than fixed systems.

"Some mobile broadband vendors and operators are clearly betting that a significant number of fixed broadband subscribers will migrate to mobile broadband, and we think they're right, although the rate of migration will vary significantly by region and technology," Roberts says. "Fixed-mobile substitution will become a significant trend in the broadband market, just as it has in voice, and fixed-line operators will have to respond."

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