Worldwide WWAN Use Surges 93%, Phones Thanked - HotHardware
Worldwide WWAN Use Surges 93%, Phones Thanked

Worldwide WWAN Use Surges 93%, Phones Thanked

It's hard to say if netbooks are completely to thank (we're guessing they only deserve some of the credit), but mobile broadband is booming. And when we say "booming," we mean "93% year-on-year growth." According to Informa Telecoms & Media’s latest World Cellular Data Metrics report, which takes a close look at non-voice mobile revenues and usage, there were over 225 million mobile broadband subscribers across all technologies (3G, 4G, WiMax, HSUPA, etc.) at the end of March '09, which represents a staggering 93% increase since last year's report.

The report notes that WWAN usage is highest in Asia-Pacific with over 90 million subscribers, while growth is most notable in Latin America (385% year-over-year to 10 million subs). Understandably, the researchers note that the evolution of the handset market has also helped this surge, and considering just how many data-accepting smartphones are out right now, that makes perfect sense. Informa estimates that the increased usage in non-voice services has resulted in mobile operators recording total data revenues of $46.5 billion during Q1 2009, which is an 8.5% year-on-year increase on the corresponding period in 2008.



Speaking of devices, let's talk iPhone. We already knew that the pervasive device was forcing AT&T to upgrade its own networks to handle demand, and overseas O2 is reporting that some 40% of its data traffic in the UK came from the smartphone sector. The full report is listed below along with lots of hard figures--we're guessing the growth won't stop this year, and with the iPhone finding its way into nearly 80 nations during the course of '09, we expect next year's report to look equally stunning.

Mobile broadband subscribers near quarter of a billion mark

-          93% year-on-year growth
-          Significant growth across developed and developing markets

According to Informa Telecoms & Media’s latest World Cellular Data Metrics report, which assesses the extent of non-voice mobile revenues and usage, there were more than 225mn mobile broadband subscribers (all technologies) at the end of March 2009, representing 93% year-on-year growth. Mobile broadband services continue to be an important source of growth for mobile operators, both as a revenue generator and as a way of retaining customers in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Whilst the popularity of mobile broadband remains at its highest in Asia Pacific (over 90mn subscribers), growth is most notable in Latin America (385% year-on-year growth to over 10mn subscribers). Typically in many emerging markets, fixed broadband access remains limited and mobile operators are seeing the opportunity to use recently deployed third-generation networks as a way of diversifying their revenue streams by connecting millions for whom an internet connection has until recently been out of reach.

The evolution of the device market has also contributed to a surge in mobile data traffic. Informa estimates that the increased usage in non-voice services has resulted in mobile operators recording total data revenues of US$46.5bn during 1Q09, which is an 8.5% y-o-y increase on the corresponding period in 2008. The value of the non-voice market for the whole of 2008 was over US$180bn, accounting for over 20% of total service revenues.

The spread of the iPhone continues to boost data usage for those operators that distribute the model with O2 reporting that 40% of its data traffic in UK comes from the smartphone market. Once the preserve of the corporate segment, the consumer market is now driving the evolution of the mobile data market. And yet, the value of the global data market has decreased by 1.8% in the last quarter.

Informa Telecoms & Media principal analyst for growth markets, Nick Jotischky explains that the main cause of this fall in the value of the data market is “global currency exchange volatility.”

But, Jotischky adds, “mobile operators cannot afford to overlook the effects of the economic downturn on consumer spending and especially the discretionary spend of data services. Moreover, intense competition and the introduction of bundled offers in order to limit churn has resulted in decreasing SMS revenues for many operators despite an actual rise in traffic. Whilst all data services, be they messaging, entertainment, internet or mobile banking services are becoming more central to mobile operator strategies, they are often more successful as retention tools and differentiators than actual revenue generators.”

Useful Data
Actual Data Revenues by Geography, 1Q08-1Q09

 
1Q08 (US$ million)
1Q09 (US$ million)
Y-o-Y Change
Africa
838
844
0.8%
Americas
2,555
2,5912
1.5%
Asia Pacific
15,943
17,947
12.6%
Eastern Europe
2,820
2,404
-14.7%
Western Europe
11,724
11,066
-5.6%
Middle East
549
670
21.9%
US/Canada
8,471
11,036
30.3%
Total
42,900
46,560
8.5%
 Regional data as % of revenues, 1Q09

 
Data as a % of revenues
Actual data revenues (US$ million)
Data ARPU (US$)
Africa
7.7%
844
0.75
Americas
15.8%
2,5912
1.73
Asia Pacific
27.3%
17,947
3.42
Eastern Europe
18.9%
2,404
1.79
Western Europe
27.1%
11,066
5.93
Middle East
11.3%
670
1.62
US/Canada
22.9%
11,036
13.0
Total
23.2%
46,560
3.9
 Mobile broadband subscriptions by region 1Q08-1Q09

 
Mobile broadband subs 1Q08
Mobile broadband subs 1Q09
Y-o-Y Change
Africa
1,089,006
2,477,300
127.5%
Americas
2,117,591
10,175,412
380.5%
Asia Pacific
53,758,192
90,369,350
68.1%
Eastern Europe
2,705,433
8,989,036
232.3%
Western Europe
12,798,360
30,783,444
140.5%
Middle East
2,860,149
3,388,635
18.5%
US/Canada
41,375,330
78,897,700
90.7%
Total
116,704,061
225,080,877
92.9%
 

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