Mobile broadband service revenue increased by 36 percent last year and is on track to more than double by 2014, according to a recent report by Infonetics Research.
While the future of mobile broadband may look rosy, there's still the global recession to deal with in the short term.
"Total mobile monthly ARPUs are still trending down across the board, despite fast-rising mobile broadband revenue that partly offsets the decline of voice and SMS, which have been affected by new tariff regulation in the middle of a global recession, prompting many subscribers to shift to prepaid accounts," said Stéphane Téral, Infonetics Research's principal analyst for mobile and FMC infrastructure. "Moving forward, a two-race game is developing: how to keep up with the onslaught of low ARPU prepaid customers, and how fast can messaging and mobile app downloads replace phone calls as the major revenue drivers?"
Other highlights from the report included:
- Revenue collected by service providers for cellular services totaled $675 billion in 2009 and is expected to top $829 billion by 2014.
- The number of mobile broadband subscribers is expected to reach 1.8 billion worldwide by 2014, or 28 percent of total mobile subscribers.
- The number of LTE subscribers is forecast to reach 153 million by 2014, mostly in Asia Pacific and EMEA.
- Due in large part to the high concentration of mobile operators in developed markets in Western Europe with good HSPA coverage, the EMEA region leads the mobile broadband race, having outpaced early 3G adopters such as Australia, Japan and South Korea.
- In emerging Asian economies such as China and India, data revenue, including SMS and mobile broadband, is already having a positive impact on total ARPU, more than offsetting the rapid decline of voice ARPU that's occurring despite double-digit percentage annual increases in voice traffic.
- By 2014, W-CDMA/HSPA revenue will almost be seven times that of CDMA2000 1x EV-DO revenue, as the majority of worldwide mobile subscribers are on GSM networks.