Mobile broadband-enabled subscriptions are expected to hit the one billion mark globally in 2011, according to ABI Research, an in-depth analysis and quantitative forecasting of trends in global connectivity and other emerging technologies.
ABI Research in its report noted that as at the end of 2010 there were more than five billion mobile subscriptions globally, with one in five of those having access to mobile broadband.
The research and advisory services firm said that 28 percent growth or 6.6 billion wireless subscriptions is expected by 2016, with 40 percent, or twice the current percentage of users, being mobile broadband-enabled.
Painting a rosy picture for mobile network operators, ABI Research said that despite many markets reaching saturation with penetration levels in excess of 100 percent, mobile network operators still have a lot more to look forward to.
“With the proliferation of mobile broadband, it has become increasingly common to have multiple mobile connections per user,” said Fei Feng Seet, research associate, in a statement.
Seet said that the main motivation is the desire to stay connected everywhere, with more high speed 4G wireless networks lighting up, and a huge increase in the popularity of social connectivity.
According to the research report, Chinese and Indian operators are now the top five mobile network operators measured by subscriptions, putting Verizon Wireless in the U.S. into sixth place.
As of the third quarter of 2010, China Mobile alone accounted for 11 percent of all global mobile subscriptions.
“China’s and India’s penetration levels are nowhere near the 100% mark, leaving much more room for growth than any other countries,” said Neil Strother, practice director at ABI Research.
Strother said that, the strictly regulated telecom markets in these two countries may impose high barriers for foreign players, which may slow the rollout of new technology.
In terms of subscriptions, worldwide mobile penetration now stands above 75 percent, of which the Asia-Pacific region accounts for close to half.
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