Year in Review: Mobile broadband news ruled 2009

Mobile broadband news ruled the industry in 2009.

The first thing that comes to mind is the data deluge that some operators are experiencing--most notably AT&T Mobility's congestion woes--as consumers buy more smartphones and data access plans. The issue will continue to drive headlines in 2010.

Web-friendly smartphones turned many mobile customers into prodigious consumers of wireless data services, and WiFi made more inroads into handsets and devices. Analysts have called WiFi access a must-have for devices going forward. Sprint is mandating that all devices include WiFi, while Verizon Wireless is slowly embracing WiFi, selling more WiFi-enabled devices but falling short of offering free WiFi to smartphone users. It recently began offering free broadband to modem and card users.

WiMAX finally made a stronger debut in major markets such as Philadelphia, Dallas, Atlanta and Las Vegas thanks to Clearwire, and the company's wholesale partners--Sprint, Time Warner and Comcast--are beginning to make a more serious push with WiMAX offerings.

The broadband stimulus application process kicked off, with some 2,200 applicants representing $28 billion in projects vying for just $4 billion in this first round. Only last week did some $182 million in projects trickle out from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS), the two agencies in charge of doling out money.

Verizon Wireless put a stake in the ground when it comes to LTE, handing out radio access contracts to Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson in February and is gearing up for its series of launches in 2010.

All of these events should make for an interesting 2010. FierceBroadbandWireless will be taking a break during the holiday season. We'll be back on Jan. 4 with our predictions for 2010. Enjoy the season.--Lynnette