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Mobile Broadband via Laptop Users to Top 418m Globally in 2017

Posted: 16th Jul, 2009 By: MarkJ
The latest forecast from technology and media specialist Coda Research Consultancy (CRC) has found that portable laptop and netbook users accessing the Internet via Mobile Broadband will produce £29bn+ ($48bn) in operator revenues in 2017 and be home to 418m users worldwide. The services will also generate and consume an immense 1.8 Exabytes of traffic per month - a 40x increase over 2009.

The most significant growth will occur in the Asia-Pacific region, where users will amount to 162m by 2017; Europe will account for 94m users and North America for 58m users. Video is also predicted to dominate Mobile Broadband traffic, accounting for over half (53%) of all traffic by 2017. The bad news for rights’ holders is that one fifth of all traffic will be P2P.

mobile broadband by region 2017

The impact of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology, the next gen Mobile Broadband standard to follow existing services (3G / HSPA), will be dramatic. Half of all netbook and laptop users will use LTE worldwide in 2017. LTE users will hit 38m in 2013 after a ramp up in LTE production in 2012, and will rise to 209m by 2017, an 1100% increase over 2012.

According to Steve Smith, founder of Coda Research:
“LTE take-up will be greatly skewed toward European and North American markets in the short to medium term, where ARPU will be highest. However, we will also see significant take up in China, and we may also see countries like India bypass 3G altogether, and move straight to LTE.”

LTE usage will lead to more traffic per user than for Mobile Broadband in general. This will further increase pressure upon network capacity, and will hit 1.1 Exabytes per month in 2017. Asia Pacific alone will take up 45% of this, whilst Europe will take up a third, and North America 17%.

mobile broadband lte usage by region

LTE operator revenues will be greatest in Europe, where they will rise by a CAGR of 47% from 2012 to 2017; forming 83% of all Mobile Broadband revenues in that region. LTE revenues from North America will grow significantly more, at a CAGR of 59% between 2012 and 2017; LTE will form 72% of this. LTE will form only 13% of all mobile broadband revenues in Middle East and Africa.

In summing up the forecast, Steve Smith said:
“Clearly, tremendous opportunities for both operators and device and component vendors exist, but the risks are significant. With enormous growth in traffic and considerable decline in ARPU, operators will need to be ruthlessly efficient. Asia Pacific is going to be the hotbed for growth, but it is a complex picture of emerging markets, developed markets and even markets that will leapfrog 3G altogether.

LTE is going to be an important cushion for operators, but our research shows they will need to take into account the very different factors impacting 3G and 3G+ growth across regions and decide carefully how, when and where to market LTE.”

It's clear from the forecast that Mobile Broadband usage and services will continue to increase and experience even faster growth from around 2011/2012 onwards. This suggests to us that Mobile Broadband will eventually become more than a mere compliment to existing fixed line broadband services, potentially stealing away a large part of that market.

Future LTE (4G) technology will allow for a Mobile Broadband network that is not only faster (in latency too) but also better structured to cope with multiple users in any given area, an aspect that can cause serious problems with existing HSPA (3G) technology. There may come a point in the future where people no longer see the need in a fixed line link when mobile can do Internet and Voice just as effectively.
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