Mobile broadband upsurge will reshape usage profiles

Market booming for years to come but user habits will change noticeably

More support for the proposition that the mobile computing market looks on an unstoppable upwards curve comes with a report from Analysys Mason suggesting that there will be nearly 150 million mobile broadband connections in Europe by 2014.

According to Mobile broadband in Europe: forecasts and analysis 2009–2014, there will be 148 million mobile broadband connections in Europe by 2014, accounting for almost half of all European broadband connections.

Yet in addition to predicting that the broadband market will grow, the analyst predicts a commensurate evolution in the usage profile of subscribers as more casual users adopt mobile broadband as a complement to DSL- or cable-based services, usually opting for prepaid subscriptions rather than the commitment of a monthly contract. Prepaid subscriptions, said the analyst, will likely account for 59% of mobile broadband connections in 2014, up from 8% in 2008.

Mobile broadband will be the key growth driver in Europe during the next five years,” argued Matt Hatton, Principal Analyst and author of the report. “As growth in voice service revenue stagnates, mobile broadband provides operators with an opportunity to tap into a valuable new revenue stream – and they can not afford to miss out.”

Analysys Mason believes that Mobile broadband services will generate service revenue of EUR23 billion in Europe in 2014. This compares with EUR6 billion in 2008, which in itself represented a compound annual growth rate of 46%. While prepaid users will likely account for the majority of growth in the number of connections, contract subscribers should continue to contribute most of the service revenue, at 77% by 2014. Analysys Mason estimates that mobile broadband will account for 5.7% of all telecoms service revenue in Europe by the end of the forecast period, up from 1.7% in 2008.

“The key development in the mobile broadband market during the next five years will be the growing proportion of casual users,” added Hatton. "These subscribers will have different usage profiles from the early adopters and landline-replacement users who have dominated the customer base until now.”

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