Mobile broadband renaissance already?

One of the things that you just have to admire about the telecoms and IT industries is no matter what the circumstances, no matter how close to the head the sword of Damocles is to businesses, there is always the bright new dawn.


Take mobile broadband. By anyone’s criteria, mobile broadband was one of the stories of 2008 and is a subject that we indeed covered at great length in terms of its fundamental importance to mobile computing in general, and the attractive deals that are currently in place including both the communications and the mobile computing technology.


But even though mobile broadband was undoubtedly successful, and mobility on the agenda of virtually all firms, one could not argue that mobile broadband is exactly universal.


Yet even before the first generation has yet to cut its teeth, the industry is now talking up the new generation of premium broadband? Should we not be learning to get mobile broadband to crawl into all firms before offering the small band of leaders a new generation?

 Danish analyst firm Strand Consult for one believes that 2009 will see mobile computing undergo an evolutionary advance with the arrival of premium mobile broadband services.


To the analyst, premium mobile broadband involves mobile broadband operators launching IP billing and an open garden strategy similar to the existing strategy deployed for premium SMS in the mobile area in general. It says the evolution will result in the creation of many new services including a number of convergence ones.


And, Strand sees that complementary to this evolution will be mobile operators moving away from supplying expensive smart phones and instead going for portable PCs/notebooks/netbooks with built-in 3G/HSDPA.  


Will this be successful? Looking across Europe, the analyst sees mobile broadband cannibalising the DSL market especially in countries such as Austria, Finland and Sweden where over 60% of general broadband connections are mobile.


In countries where mobile broadband penetration is over 10-15%, Strand forecasts that DSL providers will experience an increasing number of customers that choose a mobile broadband connection rather than a DSL connection.


But this is probably true for Europe. In the US, for example the picture is a lot different with netbooks yet to take off and only one supplier, AT&T, offering HSPA-based services.


And it is in this lies another clue to the premium mobile broadband carrier technology roadmap according to Strand. It says that the leaps will be GSM, UMTS and then LTE. And, NB, not WiMAX.


The bottom line, in all ways, in that mobile broadband will be a key element in the armoury of firm’s business survival plans. General inclement economic conditions will likely mean only steady growth for general, and not specifically premium, mobile broadband services throughout 2009.


This time next year though the blue touch paper should be well and truly lit. And likely only then will premium services, whatever they are, come to the fore.