Informa Telecoms & Media predicts mobile broadband subscribers will represent nearly one third of total mobile subscribers worldwide by 2013. The firm said mobile broadband subscribers jumped 84 percent to 186 million at the end of 2008 compared with 101 million at the end of 2007.
Informa says the significant growth has been spurred by widespread mobile broadband network coverage, appealing devices such as USB modems and the iPhone 3G and competitive flat-rate data plans.
"For many mobile operators, mobile broadband is driving sustained increases in data ARPU. That in turn is key to increasing overall revenues, given ongoing declines in voice ARPU," said Mike Roberts, principal analyst with Informa.
Roberts warns, however, that mobile broadband could succumb to the economic downturn, which could delay major investments in LTE. "There's no doubt that the downturn will delay LTE deployments, with major operators already citing it as a key factor leading them to push LTE launch dates to 2011-12," he said.
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