Energy efficiency may be the most significant barrier to 3G take up, rather than reliability, or consumer acceptance, according to a new analyst report.
Researchers at ABI Research believe mobile broadband such as 3G means that the energy required per subscriber arising from increasing data uptake will push per-subscriber energy costs for operators for mobile voice and data beyond acceptable level.
This could force carriers to move from a traditional cellular-only approach to one that integrates a variety of local wireless network technologies including Wi-Fi, WiMax and Metro WiFi.
Stuart Carlaw, director of wireless research at ABI Research, says that, "From a pure coverage perspective WiMAX is twice as energy-cost-effective and metro Wi-Fi is 50 times more energy-cost-effective than [3G].
When data traffic is factored into the equation, WiMAX can accommodate 11 times today's average data consumption and still be more energy-cost-efficient compared to [3G technologies]."
A recent ABI Research study found that the total energy consumption arising from mobile broadband service delivery is forecast to grow from 42.8 billion kilowatt hours (KWh) in 2005 to 124.4 billion KWh in 2011. The Asia Pacific region will account for the majority of this growth.
Last year, Wi-Fi operator The Cloud launched metropolitan-wide Wi-Fi network in Manchester and expects to follow suit in other major UK cities.
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