Mobile broadband will be worth $137b by 2014 - Ovum

The mobile internet market will be worth $137 billion in 2014, growing by over 450% from 2008, but user growth will be much faster than revenue growth, according to Ovum.

Operators will have to cope with falls in ARPU even as subscriber numbers and data traffic soar, the research firm warned.

Users of mobile services are projected to grow from 181 million in 2008 to over 2 billion by 2014 - a 1024% growth. Around 40% of these customers are expected to be from APAC.

At a global level, revenues grow at just 44% of the rate of users, Ovum senior analyst Michele Mackenzie said.

"Several operators have touted the idea of plugging the ARPU decline with value added services, yet we are yet to see anything sufficiently compelling in either the laptop or handset space," she said.

"The only alternative is to employ ever more ruthless network efficiency to reduce opex sufficiently in order to defend margins," added Ovum senior analyst Steven Hartley.

The number of users accessing mobile broadband through laptops will grow 1022% to 258 million in 2014, Ovum said.

"Operators can also expect a similar growth rate for handset users of mobile broadband services, but starting from a much larger existing base," Mackenzie said.

Ovum believes mobile handset internet users will grow to almost 1.8 billion by 2014. In China alone, users will reach 325 million, outnumbering laptop users by a ratio of 6:1.