Mobile broadband fever hits GSMA Congress

This year’s GSMA Mobile Congress Asia, which took place in Macau from 18 to 20 November, has focused on the hot topic of mobile broadband and how it is enabling services for a new mobile era, stated Dan Warren, director of technology at the GSMA.

Warren said mobile broadband was now enabling innovation and new applications to access mobile networks, including mobile advertising, pay by mobile and mobile entertainment.

High speed packet access (HSPA) was a key focus of mobile broadband discussions, he stated: “HSPA services, long term evolution (LTE) and WiMax saw ongoing discussions. HSPA has matured now and people are looking at HSPA Evolved (HSPA +); HSPA’s price point has now gone to a level where it is appealing to mobile users. People are realistically considering mobile broadband packages instead of DSL as the price point is comparative, even without mobility as an aspect of the decision.”

According to research firm, Wireless Intelligence, there were 62 million HSPA subscriptions worldwide in October 2008. Gartner stated that by the end of 2009 that figure will have risen to 200 million, and by 2012 it will hit 1.32 billion worldwide mobile broadband subscriptions. “All of this is driven off the back of the large existing GSM community,” stated Warren.

Warren added that there was evidence of huge uptake of HSPA, with 874 devices from 117 vendors in the market, from laptops to handsets to data cards. Also the GSMA says that some countries without 3G are already deploying HSPA in large scale, to provide broadband to places where there is no fixed infrastructure.

There was growing support for LTE also, stated Warren. NTT DoCoMo in Japan has recently run a field trial where LTE worked at speeds of 250 megabits per second. The LTE-SAE Trial Initiative (LSTI), an LTE development group, demonstrated LTE at 180 MBps in lab conditions, making NTT DoCoMo’s field trial a serious step up for the technology, said Warren.

LTE is taking EV-DO deployments (which have no further roadmap) forward now, said Warren, and LTE is also being looked at in other countries as a way to boost HSPA networks to satisfy consumer demand for more bandwidth, and is the focus for many operators that wish to move to it as soon as possible, including T-Mobile.

Award winners of the Asia Mobile Awards 2008 handed out at the show included: Best Mobile Broadband Handset/ Device went to Huawei, China for Huawei E180 HSPA Rotable USB Stick and Samsung Electronics, Republic of Korea for Samsung Innov8 (i8510); Best Mobile Music, TV or Video Service to Bharti Airtel, India for On-Demand Service on Airtel Live; Best Mobile Internet Service toSKT, Republic of Korea for Gifticon; and Best Mobile Money Service to Total Access Communications, Thailand for ATMSIM.

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