The GSMA has announced that mobile operators around the world will invest up to $72 billion in mobile broadband technologies in 2010. The new operator CAPEX investment data, compiled by global investment firm Deutsche Bank, reflects the continued consumer and enterprise demand for mobile broadband services and the need for underlying infrastructure, and comes as global HSPA connections reach the 200 million milestone.
Asia Pacific will see the greatest investment in mobile broadband with predicted capital expenditure of up to $34 billion. North America follows with up to $19 billion, with Europe expected to invest up to $14 billion. Mobile broadband is set to account for 52% of all operator investment in mobile infrastructure globally. Of all the regions, North America will spend the greatest percentage (80%) of its total mobile CAPEX investment on mobile broadband.
“The forecasted investment in mobile broadband technologies reflects the importance the mobile industry places on enabling consumers to access any type of content on the move, whatever they want, whenever they want, wherever they want,” said Michael O’Hara, chief marketing officer at the GSMA. “HSPA and HSPA+ have become the dominant global mobile broadband technologies and are set to benefit from a significant proportion of this CAPEX investment, resulting in faster and more reliable mobile broadband services being available to more subscribers around the world by the end of this year.”
HSPA connections have seen phenomenal growth in all markets since 2007, and this is set to continue in 2010 with the investment operators will make in mobile broadband technology. According to industry research firm Wireless Intelligence, the growth of HSPA is predicted to increase from an average of around nine million connections per month as of the end of 2009, to almost 13 million per month. Of the total estimated 342 million connections at the end of 2010, Europe will lead the way with 120 million connections, becoming the number one region for HSPA connections, with Asia Pacific accounting for 116 million and North America 58 million.
Operators around the world are pledging investment for continued HSPA and HSPA+ network upgrades to optimise available data speeds and maximise network capacity. In March 2009, mobilkom austria launched Europe’s first HSPA+ network to achieve competitive differentiation in a saturated mobile market. Through ongoing investment, mobilkom austria has developed an extremely successful mobile data offering and has seen its number of customers quadruple over the last three years.
“mobilkom austria was the first European mobile operator to deploy HSPA+ technology and we now have one of the fastest Mobile Broadband networks in Europe,” said Hannes Ametsreiter, CEO, Telekom Austria Group. “We’ve been able to cost effectively offer our customers peak download speeds up to 21Mbps, delivering an expansive mobile experience. mobilkom austria is committed to enriching this user experience through the provision of a solid and reliable supporting backhaul infrastructure using fibre technology.”
In Asia, Telstra, and its wholly-owned Hong Kong subsidiary CSL, is at the forefront of HSPA+ deployment. Telstra’s Next G HSPA+ network is the world’s largest 3G network, with speeds unsurpassed by any other national mobile broadband network, and covering more than 99% of the Australian population. Telstra has had HSPA+ with a peak network downlink speed of 21Mbps in commercial operation for over twelve months, and is currently testing dual carrier HSPA technology supporting peak network downlink speeds of 42Mbps. CSL currently offers the fastest Mobile Broadband network in Hong Kong, having deployed its Next G HSPA+ network last March.
“The strong technical performance of HSPA+ technology is a key differentiator for Telstra and its subsidiary CSL network in Hong Kong,” said David Thodey, CEO, Telstra. “The capabilities of HSPA+ have enabled us to deliver unparalleled network performance to our customers and enable them to enjoy a rich, next generation mobile broadband experience today.”
There are currently 200 million HSPA connections worldwide, with more than 1,800 HSPA enabled devices available from more than 150 suppliers. Across 123 countries, there are currently 294 commercially live networks, of which 183 currently deliver peak data rates of above 3.6 Mbps, and 37 commercially live HSPA+ networks, each capable of delivering data speeds up to 21 Mbps.