Mobile broadband modems hit mass market in W Europe

The mobile broadband modems market has transitioned from a high-end niche device market to a lower-margin mass market with the increased penetration of Chinese players Huawei and ZTE.

Telecompaper's latest research  shows that the mobile broadband modem market, including USB modem devices, PC Cards, ExpressCards, and internal cellular modems for laptops and mini-laptops, reached around 10.5 million units in Western Europe in 2008, more than doubling from 4.3 million in 2007.

Demand was fuelled by declining prices, both of modems and packages offered by operators, heavy promotions, improved performance and consumer-oriented packages including free USB modems with mini-laptops.

Telecompaper estimates around 18.3 million mobile data modem subscribers in Western Europe in 2008, which is around 3.6% of the total mobile subscriber base. Around 62% of the mobile data modem subscribers were situated in the UK, Germany and Italy. The market researcher expects the economic slowdown will limit market growth in 2009.

Nevertheless, over the next five years, overall demand for mobile broadband modems will continue and see a compound annual growth rate of 19%, reaching shipments of 25 million units by 2013. In 2008 the USB modem form factor became the preferred method for connecting a laptop to the internet. It will continue to show stable, but slower growth during the forecast period.

Embedded modems for laptops are expected to exceed the number of external modems by 2012, mainly through further push and collaboration by the operator and laptop vendor community.