Friday, February 4, 2011

Mobile Broadband Growth Accelerating

I have already written about the strong growth we are experiancing in Moible Broad Band, in my blogs Smartphones lay mobile network down at festival and Mobile Broadband Congestions. Now operatrors are planning for the expansions of their networks for 2011, and it is now clear that the growth in Brazil is even bigger than initially estimated.

There seem to be a consensus among operators that this years capacity planning should lay between 5 and 10 times the current capacity. This does not mean that the total traffic is expected to grow anywhere near that amount in 2011, as the installed expansion will both try to make up for the strong growth in 2010, and the take the networks will into 2012. Mobile Operators in Brazil have been criticized for bad quality and capacity, and are apparently now investing in improving their image. Operators have got more experience with the mobile broadband business and introduced tariff plans with volume cap and other products well fitted to the strong uptake in Smartphones and Tables, and now see heavier investment as more secure, as future revenue streams are beginning to become more firm and predictable. Vivo in Brazil has even announced a plan to cover 2800 municipalities until the end of 2011, and the roll-out seem to be well under way.

In 2010 several operators were forecasting a 20-times growth until 2014, but with the growth in 2010 and the new expansions forecasted for 2011, things are clearly moving faster than initially estimated. It should be remembered thought, that the data volumes in the mobile network in many cases still are well under 10% of the volume in they fixed counterparts, so there is still good room for growth. That balance is likely to change over the coming years as Tablets and Smartphones really start to kick in. Ericsson Consumer Lab released numbers this week from a survey in the USA and South Korea, showing that 45% of Smartphones users report that they spend less time in their PCs after they began to use smartphones.

The global market for smartphones grew very fast with about 75% in from 2009 to 2010, and according to Nielsen, a market research company, the sales of smartphones grew 128% in Brazil, corresponding to a market share of 10%, against the 25% for USA.

All in all, this seems to confirm the words from Google's CEO, Eric Smidth at the IFA conference in 2010 that the mobile Internet growing eight times faster the it's fixed counterpart when at the same size.