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Mobile Internet Access is the New Battlefield

According to the latest market study by Informa, total mobile service revenues will exceed $1 trillion in 2013, despite a projected fall in voice call related revenues. Growth in service revenues will be driven by data related revenues -- rising to over $330 billion, up from an estimated $208 billion in 2008.

"The backdrop to this transition in the industry is the fact that the Internet has started to dominate the landscape for new services and applications, and telecoms operators are under increasing pressure to remain valuable and relevant in the eyes of their end-users," says Mark Newman, Chief Research Officer at Informa Telecoms & Media.

As this happens, the growth in data revenues is being spurred by the rise in take-up of more advanced technologies and mobile broadband services, as well as new handset interfaces and mobile content strategies based on open application stores rather than closed walled gardens.

Illustrating the significance of data services to mobile operators, Informa predicts that data revenues and data ARPU in Japan will actually surpass voice revenues and ARPU in 2014.

At a time when Japan's mobile operators are looking for more sustainable revenue streams by offering personalized services that make use of their high network capacity for data, the advent of LTE should help to support this boom in data revenues.

Informa projects that data revenues in Japan will reach $39.7 billion in 2014, and that monthly data ARPU will be $24.56 -- apparently, by comparison, the highest in the world.

Second-generation mobile technologies still account for 90 percent of the world's subscriptions, but by the end of 2012, this figure will fall to 70 percent, and by the end of 2014, over half the world's 6.7 billion mobile subscriptions will be to 3G and 3.5G+ technologies.

Furthermore, Informa projects that by the end of 2014, 3.5G+ technologies will represent over a third of the total number of subscriptions.

The quality and coverage of a mobile operator's network remains an important point of differentiation. The explosion of mobile broadband has renewed the significance of the network itself -- as operators market their mobile broadband services around the speed and geographical range of their network.

With global subscription penetration set to reach 92 percent in 2014 -- and meaningful new overall growth only available in rural parts of Africa and Asia Pacific -- data service strategies are central to mobile operator success, both as a way to generate new revenues and to minimize the impact of churn.

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