Mobile e-mail and connectivity driving data traffic boom

Vastly increased mobile broadband use driving mobile data traffic to overtake mobile voice traffic

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.

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.

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