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More Mobile Broadband Subscribers than on Wireline

Some view mobile broadband services as inferior offerings -- due mostly to the low-speed connections and inconsistent coverage. That said, it's often the only available broadband option for many rural locations, and a welcomed additional option to other Internet users around the world.

Infonetics Research recently released excerpts from its latest fixed wireline and mobile broadband subscribers market forecast report. The global market has reached a significant new milestone.

"As we predicted, mobile broadband subscribers surpassed wireline broadband subscribers in 2010 -- 558 million vs. 500 million," says Stefane Teral, Infonetics Research's principal analyst for mobile and FMC infrastructure.

Fixed-line services are not dead, though, especially with China giving a boost to the worldwide wireline broadband base with its massive fiber-based program led by the Chinese government, which has set a 20Mbps benchmark for all broadband subscribers -- where most today receive 2Mbps to 3Mbps at best.

Infonetics' latest market study highlights include:

- Infonetics forecasts the number of mobile phone subscribers to grow to 6.4 billion in 2015 (the current global population is 6.9 billion).

- In 2010, Asia Pacific accounted for nearly half of all mobile subscribers.

- The number of cellular mobile broadband subscribers jumped almost 60 percent in 2010 to 558 million worldwide and should top 2 billion by 2015.

- Access lines (residential, business, and wholesale PSTN, POTS, and ISDN connections) are forecast to continue declining, falling to 759 million worldwide by 2015.

- As access lines disappear, new forms of wireline broadband continue to thrive; the number of wireline broadband subscribers (DSL, cable, PON, Ethernet FTTH, FTTB+LAN) hit 500 million worldwide in 2010.

- WiMAX, in high demand in many regions with inadequate wired infrastructure, remains modest in scale but not growth: despite the global recession, the number of WiMAX subscribers grew 75 percent in 2010, with more strong growth ahead, reaching 126 million in 2015.

- The number of VoIP subscribers (including VoIP over access lines and over other broadband lines, such as cable) is forecast to grow from 157 million in 2010 to 264 million in 2015.

- While growth in the number of video subscribers is being challenged by over-the-top (OTT) and free-to-air services, telco IPTV subscribers are forecast to triple between 2010 and 2015, and digital and satellite cable subscribers will see healthy annual growth as analog cable video subscribers continue their inevitable decline.

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