Mobile broadband subscriptions are on track to surpass 1 billion in 2011 only months after reaching half a billion, Ericsson has reported, highlighting a key growth driver for the telecom sector.
“During the course of 2010, a significant milestone in terms of mobile broadband subscriptions was reached as their number surpassed the half-a-billion mark globally,” Ericsson said. “Ericsson estimates that this number will double before 2011 ends.”
Growing data traffic is seen driving revenue for telecoms operators and leading to increased investment in networks, boosting revenues for gear suppliers such as Ericsson.
Asia Pacific is expected to account for the greatest number of subscriptions, around 400 million, followed by North America and western Europe with more than 200 million each, Ericsson said.
The group said that in 2008, mobile Internet subscribers totalled around 200 million. By 2015, Ericsson believes mobile broadband subscriptions will top 3.8 billion, indicating the pace of growth is picking up.
The trend has already started boosting operators’ revenues. Nordic telecoms firms TeliaSonera, Telenor and Tele2 all pointed to rising smartphone and mobile Internet use as helping earnings last year.
Network providers such as Ericsson, Nokia Siemens Networks and China’s Huawei hope demand for on-line gaming, video streaming and watching TV will push operators to upgrade networks to boost capacity and speed.