As this week's launch by Vodafone shows, operators are racing to deploy and launch mobile broadband services, which will lead 3.5G subscribers worldwide to boom from 2.5 million at the end of 2006 to more than 200 million in 2010, according to Future Mobile Broadband: HSPA, EV-DO, WiMAX & LTE, a new Strategic Report from Informa Telecoms & Media.
HSDPA will account for the majority of 3.5G mobile broadband subscribers worldwide in 2011, followed by HSUPA, EV-DO Revision A (EV-DOrA) and EV-DO Revision B (EV-DOrB). The top two regions for HSDPA subscribers through 2011 will be Western Europe followed by Asia-Pacific, with North America a distant third. Asia-Pacific will account for the majority of EV-DOrA/B subscribers through 2011, followed by North America.
"Vodafone has just launched HSDPA services in the UK but it is far from
alone," says Mike Roberts, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media and
co-author of the report. "There are already 34 live HSDPA networks worldwide
and another 43 in deployment, just six months after the first HSDPA service
was launched. Most WCDMA operators have clearly decided that the benefits of
upgrading to HSDPA - including download speeds of 1-2Mbps compared to
384Kbps for WCDMA, and much lower latency - are well worth the costs,
particularly given the emergence of competing systems such as EV-DOrA/B and
In fact the success of EV-DO mobile broadband services has driven some
competing WCDMA operators to upgrade to HSDPA, which in turn is leading EV-DO
operators to upgrade to EV-DOrA. For example Verizon Wireless launched EV-DO in
September 2003 and the success of its BroadbandAccess EV-DO service helped drive
Cingular Wireless to launch the world's first commercial HSDPA service in
December 2005. Now Verizon is trialing EV-DOrA and rival Sprint Nextel plans to
launch EV-DOrA services in 1Q07.
Sprint Nextel also plans to leapfrog the competition by launching what it calls
a '4G' mobile broadband service by 2008 using its 2.5GHz spectrum and an
advanced technology such as Flash-OFDM, EV-DOrC, TD-CDMA, 3G Long-Term
Evolution, Mobile WiMAX or WiBro.
However the transition to broadband creates
as many challenges as it does opportunities for mobile broadband operators.
"These range from major strategic challenges such as how to successfully
navigate convergence and competition with fixed broadband providers, to key
operational challenges such as when and how to launch mobile broadband
services, what end-user segments to target with what devices and at what
prices, and how to differentiate services in an increasingly competitive
market featuring incumbent fixed and mobile operators as well as new
entrants using new technologies operating in new spectrum," Roberts says.
Mobile infrastructure and component suppliers face similar challenges and
will have to make major strategic moves to establish strong positions in the
emerging mobile broadband and convergence markets.
"In the infrastructure market Nokia is merging with Siemens
Communications and Alcatel with Lucent, so other mid-tier vendors such as
Motorola and Nortel will have to respond soon," says Roberts.
Interesting thoughts, especially that HSDPA will gain 65 % market share while
HSUPA will only catch 19 % until 2011. Nevertheless, as with GSM before, its
successor UMTS (and HSDPA/HSUPA) is the clear winner.
Cheers ~ Arne