Just as mobile phones have started to replace our fixed connections, it is likely that some of us will start to replace or supplement our fixed broadband connections with mobile broadband. The growing number of network options, faster speeds and cheaper equipment are the catalysts behind this move. In fact, nearly 17.3 percent of Europe’s PC-based broadband connections are using some form of high-speed wireless broadband connections, according to a research report by Berg Insight, a Gothenburg, Sweden based research group. These include HSPA (3G) and LTE (4G) based connections, even though LTE has only just been introduced in some parts of Scandinavia.
“The number of HSPA/LTE mobile broadband subscribers (connected PCs) grew by 71 percent year-on-year in 2009 to reach 25.0 million,” Berg Insight notes. By 2015, this number is likely to exceed 21.6 percent or about 81 million connections by 2015, Berg Estimates. Austria has the highest number of mobile broadband users – about 15 percent. Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Ireland and Portugal have also penetration rates above 10 percent. The growing number of embedded mobile broadband modules inside portable PCs are seen as the reason for this growth.
According to Berg Insight in 2009 a total of 66 million external mobile broadband devices were shipped with Europe and North America accounting for 24.3 million units and 5.6 million units respectively. In North America, mobile broadband accounts for just 7.1 percent of the total number of connections, but by 2015 this will change to 34.8 percent (or 42 million subscribers) by 2015.
Marcus Persson, Telecom Analyst, Berg Insight predicts that the prices for the embedded modules will decrease, which will increase the number of machines with built-in embedded modules over next five years. Huawei is the world’s largest supplier of mobile broadband terminals holding a market share of 53 percent and has a particularly strong foothold in Europe. ZTE is the second largest vendor. Sierra Wireless (s SWIR) of Canada and Novatel Wireless (s NVTL) of San Diego, Calif. are two other larger players in the mobile broadband terminal market.