Mobile Broadband Market to Be Powered By Emerging Markets

By Steve Anderson May 15, 2014

Mobile devices offer up a lot of opportunity for users. Between the sheer value such devices pose as entertainment platforms, as communications measures, and as business tools, the list of valuable services that mobile devices supply goes on and on. But driving mobile devices' impact on our lives is the connectivity such devices offer, and that means that mobile broadband is a major part of the market as well. It's even more substantial when the issue of mobile broadband as a connection medium for PCs and modems is considered, and according to a report from Strategy Analytics' Wireless Operator Strategies (WOS) service, it may be a bigger market than anyone expects.

The Strategy Analytics study, titled “Global Active Mobile Broadband PC / Modem Subscription Forecast 2007 – 2018”, brought out some staggering numbers along with it. Perhaps the most substantial point was the sheer dollar value of the market in question; while service revenue is expected to be around $52 billion by the end of 2014, it's expected to reach $64 billion in 2018. That's impressive enough on its own, and it only gets more so the farther in the report goes. By the end of 2014, there are expected to be 260 million mobile broadband data plans related to PC / modems worldwide...but by the end of 2018, that number is expected to reach 418 million. Data traffic over those plans, meanwhile, will more than double, as 2014 is expected to see 7.6 billion terabytes of data go through, but by 2018, that number will climb to 16 billion terabytes.

This staggering market, meanwhile, will be largely driven by 4G LTE service, accounting for nearly three quarters of service revenue in 2018—74 percent—and almost as much, 71 percent, of the total data traffic. Of all this traffic, meanwhile, emerging markets are set to make the biggest impact on the sector; just China and India alone, according to the report, will account for fully a third of all connections by the 2018 point.

Director for wireless operator strategies Susan Welsh de Grimaldo offered comment to illustrate the market developments further, saying “4G LTE will be a catalyst for growth, fulfilling connectivity needs with larger, lower cost-per-gigabyte data plans. Portable Wi-Fi hotspot routers will be an important product for 4G, tapping into the rapidly expanding installed base of Wi-Fi enabled portable devices in many households.” This was amplified by executive director for wireless operator strategies Phil Kendall, who noted “Alongside a bullish outlook for emerging markets, some developed markets will return to growth as niche fixed broadband alternative opportunities emerge and pricing flexibility increases.”

What's eminently clear here is that the mobile connectivity market—whether it's being used to drive mobile devices or whether the mobile devices are being used to drive standard desktop connections—is going to be a very big one indeed the farther we go along. Traditional infrastructure like towers covering wide areas may not prove to be enough, so looking to other technologies like small cell operations and the like might need to be part of the equation, which in turn will help drive another part of the market.

Conjecture aside, however, it's clearly going to be a big market for mobile broadband, and all around the world that's likely to be the case. The developments that extend from this development, meanwhile, will take time to fully coalesce, but until then, we can count on big moves to come in mobile broadband.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Contributing TechZone360 Writer

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