2009 Global Mobile Broadband - Statistics and Trends

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Last updated: 8 Apr 2009 Update History

Report Status: Archived

Report Pages: 172

Analyst: Kylie Wansink

Publication Overview

This annual report offers a wealth of information on the worldwide development of the mobile broadband including content, services and infrastructure. Information at a regional level is also provided for the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Asia Pacific. The report includes analyses, statistics, forecasts and trends. It provides a comprehensive insight into the progress of mobile and examines some the issues and trends.


Subjects covered include:

·         Worldwide mobile data market and revenues;

·         Mobile broadband services and statistics;

·         Mobile marketing and advertising;

·         M-Commerce and m-payments;

·         Mobile TV/mobile video;

·         Telemetry and RFID;

·         Location based services and GPS;

·         Wireless/mobile broadband infrastructure ie LTE/WiMAX;

·         Regional overviews.


Researchers: Paul Budde, Lawrence Baker, Lucia Bibolini, Peter Evans, Dominic Hebert, Lisa Hulme-Jones, Paul Kwon, Henry Lancaster, Peter Lange, Tine Lewis, Kylie Wansink

Current publication date:- April 2009 (13th Edition)

Next publication date:- April 2010

Executive Summary

Mobile broadband services are finally beginning to grow as they become more accessible by the mobile phone. Competition and a saturated mobile voice market also means the operators are forced to offer very competitive capped data packages. Such affordability and certainty (no bill shock) is the key reason for growth. This development is complimented/supported by new technologies like HSPA which are bringing more efficiency to the network and allowing the operators to offer these products. Still, mass market penetration will be difficult because of a general lack of spectrum available to push all this traffic through (prices therefore will remain relatively high).


The economic downturn may also affect growth rates in the short-term, especially for more luxury-based services; however, mobile broadband services and content will continue to grow in the long term. While on-deck mobile data usage remains strong, off-deck usage to both mobile-specific Internet sites and regular sites is growing rapidly.


Mobile music services, including ringtones, continue to be the most popular mobile service beyond SMS and accessing emails while on the move. While ringtones have been popular for some time, consumers are also beginning to use mobile for downloading fulltracks and streaming music. As the business models evolve and handsets continue to improve, this market is expected to continue its growth.


Mobile social networking is also a key area of interest at the moment with millions of mobile users around the world now using such services. However, it will not be until proper 4G networks are in place that we will really see the possibilities of mobile social networking emerge as it becomes combined with other applications such as location-based services, mapping and presence. There are many start-ups vying for a space in the sector and industry leaders in fixed social networking services, such as MySpace and Facebook, have also turned their eye towards mobile social media.


Despite low consumer uptake of mobile TV and video services, the industry is hoping new developments will continue to facilitate growth. In particular it is hoped that the increasing use of mobile Internet will result in more mobile Internet video viewing. It is also envisioned that advertising spend will provide more subsidies for streaming mobile and the rollout of mobile digital TV will promote usage. In 2009 in the US, a coalition of broadcasters will launch a new service that will provide digital television direct to mobile devices using existing spectrum.


There are now over 400 million 3G subscribers worldwide and while 3G has facilitated growth for the mobile broadband sector, it is still really not suitable for mass market mobile broadband usage. We still need Next Generation Mobile Networks based on 4G for this. Over the last couple of years WiMAX and LTE emerged as the most likely candidates for such networks. In 2009 LTE is gaining even stronger support from many of the large of operators around the world. Some are developing long-term plans to evolve towards LTE and some are conducting trials. WiMAX is beginning to be seen more and more as a niche technology suitable for only some markets.


This report provides a valuable insight into the developments taking place in the mobile broadband/mobile data sector. It includes information on both mobile broadband services and content and also mobile broadband infrastructure. The report comprises a global overview of the progress of key mobile data services including mobile music, mobile social networking, mobile adult content services, mobile email/Internet, mobile messaging and mobile gambling and gaming. Statistics and information on mobile advertising, mobile commerce and m-payments are also incorporated. The report explores the issues surrounding mobile TV/mobile video and also covers developments and statistics for telemetry including RFID, LBS and GPS. Mobile broadband infrastructure developments are also included along with regional information for North America, Latin America, Europe, Middle East and Asia Pacific.


Key highlights:

·         The next upgrade of technology to LTE is essential to really see the mobile broadband market developing into a mass market (2012-2015).

·         Mobile data (including SMS) accounts for around 20% of total mobile revenues worldwide.

·         Handsets are becoming more mature and easier to use for data and content, although they still have a long way to go. Trends from the US suggest that the 3G iPhone and other high end handsets may assist the rise in mobile data usage.

·         As the uptake of mobile phones with GPS capabilities continues to grow, the possibilities for developing popular LBS also increases.

·         There is evidence that smartphones are becoming popular for downloading and playing mobile games as they offer a better platform for such services. Mobile gaming is expected to continue to grow as it is both cheap and entertaining.


Worldwide mobile games revenue – 2009; 2013


Revenue ($ billion)

2009 (e)


2013 (e)


(Source: BuddeComm, 2009)

Note: Mobile gaming is defined as video games on mobile phones
and excludes demos and preloaded/prebundled games.


·         Nokia plans to develop a device for LTE networks rather than continue its support of WiMAX.

·         The next major development in the US is likely to involve the move towards 4G platforms, such as Verizon’s plan to deploy LTE from 2009 and the Sprint-Clearwire WIMAX network which started being deployed in October 2008.

·         3G mobile broadband is rapidly outgrowing DSL and other wireless broadband services in Africa.

·         Mobile broadband in Australia is nearly exclusively used by subscribers for tasks that are not overly demanding in terms of the speed of the connection and the amount of data downloaded, activities such as email access and basic Internet browsing.


Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.


The following notes provide some background to our scenario forecasting methodology:

  • This report includes what we term scenario forecasts. By describing long-range scenarios we identify a band within which we expect market growth to occur. The associated text describes what we see as the most likely growth trend within this band.
  • The projections shown in the tables in this report are based on our own historical information, as well as on telecommunication sector statistics from official and non-official, national and international sources. We assume a possible deviation of 15-20% around this data.
  • All statistics for GDP, revenue, etc are shown in US$, in order to maintain consistency within and between markets. At the same time we acknowledge that this can introduce some irregularities.

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