The GSMA today announced that the rate of growth of HSPA Mobile Broadband connections has increased by nearly two thirds in the last year, according to figures released by Wireless Intelligence. There are now more than 9 million new HSPA connections being added globally every month, compared to 5.5 million a year ago. Europe and Asia Pacific each account for an estimated 3 million of these new connections, with North America contributing 1.3 million.
The rise in demand for Mobile Broadband will continue to accelerate, with a further 27 million HSPA connections forecast to be added by the end of 2009, with Africa, Eastern Europe and the Americas set to experience the strongest growth. There are currently 321 HSPA networks across 120 countries worldwide – 285 of these networks are commercially live, supporting more than 167.5 million connections. These networks are being served by more than 1,600 HSPA-enabled devices, such as smartphones, netbook and notebook PCs and dongles, for example, delivering Mobile Broadband connectivity to users around the world.
“HSPA technology continues its phenomenal growth as thousands of operators, vendors, application and service providers back the technology, ensuring the presence of a vibrant and competitive ecosystem,” said Dan Warren, Director of Technology at the GSMA. “This expanding ecosystem also encompasses the next generation of GSM technologies, HSPA+ and LTE. These next generation network technologies will continue to deliver increased data speeds and enable mobile operators to constantly improve service experience by delivering the latest, feature rich multimedia applications to their customers.”
Mobile operators around the world are seeing a huge growth in the amount of mobile data traffic across their networks. This trend is set to continue, with mobile devices predicted to send and receive more data in one month by 2014 than in all of 2008. Three quarters of this traffic will be attributed to Internet access, while nearly all the remainder will be due to audio and video streaming*. This gives a clear indication of the significant changes that Mobile Broadband will be having on network usage over the coming years.
The sharp rise in demand for Mobile Broadband devices, services and applications is driving mobile operators to constantly evolve their network infrastructures and embrace the latest technologies. There are now 56 HSPA+ networks in existence globally, with 28 commercially live. Furthermore, 50 mobile operators worldwide have already committed to LTE plans, trials or deployments, with the first LTE networks expected to be rolled out next year. LTE is widely regarded as the de facto Mobile Broadband technology that will be adopted by the vast majority of mobile operators globally.
Mobile operators are employing varying strategies in terms of network migration from HSPA to HSPA+ and/or LTE. There are a number of factors dictating the technology path an operator may choose, including the age of its legacy technology, the flexibility of its existing infrastructure, the ROI it has set, the spectrum it has available and the pricing models it has in place.
Warren continues: “There are several key questions operators need to address when building a business case for HSPA+ and/or LTE migration. The answers to these questions will determine whether or not they choose to deploy HSPA+ first or move straight to LTE. The one certainty is that nearly all operators globally are embracing the GSM family of technologies, in order to meet the rapidly increasing demand for Mobile Broadband services on a range of different devices.”