1bn mobile connected devices by 2016

A report from the UMTS Forum predicts the global existence of one billion Consumer Electronics (CE) devices connected to mobile broadband networks by 2016.

The study argues that while the market for connected devices remains embryonic, CE device connectivity will outstrip overall wireless market growth in the next five years. This trend is signalled by a wave of device categories that are already starting to demand access to cellular data networks.

“The collision between mobile broadband networks and connected devices – from digital cameras to personal health monitors – will see by our own estimation as many as a billion additional connections by 2016,” comments UMTS Forum Chairman Jean-Pierre Bienaimé.

“The future growth of the mobile communications and CE industries are intrinsically linked”, continues Bienaimé. “Over the next few years, mobile broadband will enable the cost-effective deployment of ‘always on’ devices for the consumer. The largest area for future growth in mobile communications is in devices like gaming consoles, e-reading devices, in-vehicle entertainment, home appliances and healthcare.”

“There’s no doubt that the CE industry must ‘connect or perish’”, adds Bienaimé. “In particular, we encourage operators and CE vendors to collaborate on developing new business models – like revenue sharing – that reduce upfront investment risk while generating new sources of value.”

“It’s time for operators to look beyond connectivity and access models” concludes Bienaimé. “They must play a higher-profile role in managing the whole customer experience, from novel routes to market and technology platform management to packaged offerings that help ‘mobilise’ CE devices.”

Key findings of the report include:

– CE devices are not yet the main driver for mobile broadband, and this will remain for the short to medium term.
– Mobile broadband enabled devices largely support mobile usage.
– Wi-Fi will remain the dominant access technology in homes.
– Cloud- and media server-based solutions will coexist.
– Business models are very much the key barrier to mobile broadband enabled CE devices on a large scale. Operators thus need to regain their pivotal role in the ecosystem and to stimulate the development of mobile-enabled CE, rather than relying on the main impetus from CE vendors. A collaborative approach between operators and CE vendors will contribute creating a sustainable service business.
– Other potential barriers to ubiquitous mobile broadband include market and spectrum fragmentation, chip prices, and the need for a clear value proposition for LTE to be understood by CE players.

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