Mobile Broadband Grows

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3.5G Pie Chart

Following hot on the heels of Vodafone’s HSDPA announcement, we have some more data for you on what the industry calls 3.5G or ‘mobile broadband.’ Informa Telecoms & Media is reporting that 3.5G subscribers will increase from 2.5 million at the end of 2006 to more than 200 million in 2010. HSDPA will account for the majority of 3.5G subscribers, with Western Europe and Asia-Pacific being the top two regions and North America a distant third.

“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 Mobile WiMAX.”

Interestingly, Informa is also stating that EV-DO mobile broadband services have driven some competing WCDMA operators to upgrade to HSDPA, which in turn is leading EV-DO operators to upgrade to EV-DOrA. Verizon Wireless launched EV-DO in September 2003 and the success of its BroadbandAccess EV-DO service is what 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.