Mobile broadband to skyrocket: experts

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The uptake of mobile broadband will skyrocket over the next five years, experts say.

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Despite the prediction of 3.2 billion mobile broadband subscriptions worldwide by 2015, industry expert Ovum says the future remains bright for fixed broadband.

Mobile broadband includes “dongles” – or USB connections – and handsets, but does not include fixed WIFI.

Ovum’s principal analyst Michael Philpott said the numbers are huge compared to the predicted 785 million fixed broadband subscriptions.

“By the end of 2015 mobile broadband will swamp fixed broadband subscriptions by more than 300 per cent,” Mr Philpott said.

Although the significant mobile growth will impact on the fixed market, that will still continue to grow at a compound annual growth rate of seven per cent.

“This should certainly not be seen as a doom scenario,” he said

. “By 2015, on a worldwide basis, 36 per cent of homes will have a fixed broadband subscription.” Ovum’s research director David Kennedy said fixed broadband will remain popular to deliver video-based services.

“Our view is that there’ll be a certain segment who will be attracted to a mobile-only broadband solution, but we don’t expect that to exceed about 15 per cent of the market in Australia,” Mr Kennedy said.

Overseas operators are now hitting the market with “triple packages” which sell mobile, television and broadband in a bundle.

The shift to mobile won’t affect the federal government’s planned rollout of the $40 billion National Broadband Network (NBN), which the coalition labels a “white elephant”, Mr Kennedy said.

“Mobile doesn’t put a major economic question over the NBN – the main question is whether it will be that much better than the existing copper network,” Mr Kennedy said.

Even though fixed broadband is now seen as a mature market, its story is far from over.

“Devices are increasingly becoming wireless, and mobile broadband technology is developing fast, but it is unlikely, at least in the next decade, that it will catch the more advanced fixed broadband technologies in terms of capability or cost of delivery,” Mr Philpott said.

“It simply won’t make technological or financial sense therefore for operators to cut the fixed broadband connection to the home, even if inside the home many of the devices are in fact wireless in nature.”