Broadband booms in the Naughties

But post-2010 spells mobile broadband doom as market consolidates

Global Internet access has exploded over the last decade from about 350 million to 1.6 billion, according to new research.

More than a third of Internet users worldwide will connect via broadband, according to a BuddeComm report, 2010 Global Telecoms Industry Snapshot. About 500 million people will be on fixed-line technologies by year’s end. Almost two-thirds of users will subscribe to DSL connections, about 20 per cent via cable modem and only 10 to 15 per cent will use fibre.

Wireless connections account for a meagre 1 per cent, however this is expected to skyrocket over the next decade following advancements in 4G technology.

BuddeComm senior analyst, Kylie Wansink, said the telecommunications industry has remained resilient during the financial economic crisis.

“The vibrant global telecommunications industry has faced many challenges over the last decade including regulatory and technology changes, a severe industry downturn, consolidation, market saturation, declining prices and major inroads by mobile services,” Wansink said in the report.

“As a whole the [telecommunications] industry has been quite resilient when compared to some other industries such as automotive, retail and travel.”

Mobile network subscribers will top five billion globally by year’s end, according to the research, up from 730 million at the start of the decade. About 300 million users are subscribed to 3G and 3.5G networks.

“The success of the smartphone, especially the Apple iPhone… has resulted in an increase of traffic on existing mobile networks and created a more pressing need to develop 4G technologies,” Wansink said.

Analyst firm IDC predicts a boom for IPTV and video on demand this year and a decline in mobile broadband subscriber (MBB) growth.

“The low-hanging MBB fruit has well and truly been picked and that the stellar growth of both MBB subscribers and revenue will subside in 2010,” the firm said.

Converged mobile device growth is expected to surge, IDC says, as vendors flood the market with devices to compete against the iPhone. A corresponding boom in mobile data is also expected.

“Converged devices are now at a point where a data connection is all but essential to getting the most out of your device,” the report reads. “Social networking, weather, stock market updates and news headlines are now being tightly integrated throughout most aspects of converged devices and, with such significant components of devices relying on having a data connection, consumers without a data pack on their account will be severely limited in what they can do with their device.”

IDC also predicts that, with the plethora of mobile operating systems on offer, the market is ripe for consolidation.

“Currently, there are eight distinct converged device (smartphone) operating systems (OS) in use by mobile device vendors — Android, Blackberry OS, Linux, Mac OS, Palm OS, Symbian, Web OS, and Windows Mobile (WM),” the report reads. “These eight broad operating systems can further be segmented into at least 11 distinct variants, further complicating the ecosystem.”

Meanwhile, not a sod will be turned this year for the National Broadband Network (NBN), the firm claims, as the Federal Government and industry remains locked in equity discussions.

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