Mobile Broadband Numbers Hit 50 Million

The GSM Association (GSMA), the global trade group for the mobile industry, has revealed that the number of worldwide subscribers using Mobile Broadband (HSPA) networks has topped the 50 million mark, up from just 11 million one year ago. Global uptake of HSPA technology among consumers and businesses is accelerating, indicating continued traffic growth for high-speed mobile networks worldwide. The analyst Wireless Intelligence expects the number of HSPA connections to be growing by 4 million per month by the end of 2008.
The number of operators with commercial HSPA networks has reached 191 and there are now over 740 HSPA-enabled devices, including mobiles, dongles and notebooks, available from 116 manufacturers.
These figures highlight the global success of Mobile Broadband and the fact that we are continuing to see greater and greater economies of scale, says GSMA CEO, Rob Conway. This is driving down the cost of devices and equipment and enabling more and more users across the world to enjoy easy access to media-rich services anywhere at any time.
High-speed mobile access opens up a wide range of services for consumers, including interactive gaming, music and video streaming and the easy sharing of pictures and entertainment. Businesses can use fast Mobile Broadband to rollout advanced solutions for flexible working and to enable field workers to have quick and easy access to the companys information systems. 
The most widely-deployed peak data speeds over HSPA are currently between 3.6Mbps and 7.2Mbps. This translates to an end user speed of more than 1Mbps, which is comparable to many of todays fixed-line broadband services.
This is a significant achievement for HSPA and clear confirmation that it will be the dominant mobile broadband technology for the foreseeable future, says Howard Wilcox, Senior Analyst at Juniper Research. (We) can only see this growth increasing in the years to come, achieving an estimated 1 billion HSPA subscribers globally in five years time. We see HSPA as a real service enabler, essentially replicating the desktop web experience on handheld devices.
Wilcox says that Juniper expects services such as social networking, music and video downloads and uploads direct to and from devices, and location-based services to flourish with HSPA.
With the speeds being achieved, we also see HSPA as a realistic alternative for fixed broadband access, particularly in rural areas and amongst users who re-locate frequently, he says. In addition, we anticipate that growth will be driven by the sub-35 age range. 15 to 20 year olds now who have been brought up with a mobile for as long they can remember, broadband at home and digital multichannel TV the digital generation will expect mobile broadband as a given in future, when they enter the world of work.
 

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