WLAN next big thing in handset connectivity

Analyst firm predicts WLAN to be theprevalent connectivity technology in mass-market mobile handsets

WLAN will become the next prevalent connectivity technology in mass-market mobile handsets, according to new a research report from Berg Insight.

The Swedish the analyst firm predicts that the number of handsets with integrated WLAN will grow from 27 million in 2007 to 400 million by 2012, a compound annual growth rate of 71.5%, corresponding to an attach rate of 25%.

Bergs says that WLAN will likely be used primarily for high-speed Internet access in home or office networks and file transfer of media files. “Mobile operators no longer consider WLAN a threat against data revenues”, said André Malm, telecom analyst, Berg Insight. “As flat-rate plans for data access become the norm, encouraging subscribers to use a local Internet connection actually makes much sense as a way to prevent data overload in mobile networks.”

However, the analyst warns that firms should have a more cautious outlook for the adoption of other connectivity technologies such as NFC and UWB in mobile handsets. The number of handsets with integrated NFC or FeliCa is forecasted to grow from 35 million in 2007 at CAGR of 43.8% to 215 million in 2012, corresponding to an attach rate of 13%.

Moreover, it does not expect UWB to appear in significant volumes before 2010 and only be featured in 1% of the handsets shipped in 2012. Berg believes that it has recognised a significant potential for both technologies but believes that neither of them have yet become widespread enough to motivate integration in high-volume handsets. It regards NFC as closest to achieving a breakthrough, maybe achieved as early as 2010 or 2011.

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