The rapid and widespread success of mobile broadband services, said to have more than 100 million subscribers worldwide using more than 300 live networks, is sparking a data traffic boom that will revive the struggling mobile base station market.
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This is the key finding of In ‘Mobile Networks Forecasts: Future Mobile Traffic, Base Stations & Revenues’ Informa , a new strategic report and forecasts from Informa Telecoms & Media.
According to the report, the mobile broadband boom is helping mobile operators achieve one of their key strategic goals - increasing mobile data revenues in a bid to offset declining voice revenues. For example Vodafone, the world's largest mobile operator by revenues, reported £2.2 billion in non-messaging data revenues for the year ended March 31 2008, up 55% from £1.4 billion in 2007, due to strong growth in business email and PC connectivity devices along with strong take-up of mobile broadband USB modems. Informa believes that the operator signed up 2 million consumer customers to its flat-rate mobile Internet plans in 2007.
However, teh report also says that data traffic is growing much faster than data revenues, partly due to the launch of flat-rate mobile broadband tariffs. Vodafone's data traffic increased by more than tenfold in the year ended 31 March 2008 compared to 2007, versus a 55% increase in data revenues. And the trend is widespread - T-Mobile reported a 10-fold increase in WCDMA/HSPA traffic in first-half 2007 compared to first-half 2006, and operators reporting at least a four-fold increase in mobile data traffic in 2007 include AT&T and Telecom Italia Mobile.
Informa Telecoms & Media forecasts that global mobile data revenues will increase 77% from 2007 to 2012, but global mobile data traffic will grow far faster, increasing more than 1000% over the same period. The traffic boom will be driven by a dramatic increase in the use of advanced applications such as mobile browsing and video - for example mobile video traffic will grow more than thirty-fold by 2012, according to Mobile Networks Forecasts.
The bulk of the traffic boom will naturally happen on advanced networks such as HSPA, EV-DO, WiMAX and LTE, with LTE for example seeing a 70-fold increase in global traffic from 2010 to 2012.
Informa Telecoms & Media forecasts that 2011 will also be a watershed in that it will be the year when mobile data traffic overtakes mobile voice traffic, which has always driven mobile network design, rollout and operation.