The mobile Internet access market will cater to 136 million people by the end of 2007, thanks to the increased mobility of the workforce and the introduction of mobile-specific applications, according to Frost & Sullivan. That’s an increase from 2.9 million active subscribers in 2000.
Along with the increase in customers will come an increase in revenue for mobile access carriers. Revenue reached $417.6 million from Internet traffic in 2000, and this is projected to surge to $25.89 billion by 2007.
“The industry has recognized the opportunities presented by next generation networks and has already invested heavily in licenses and infrastructure for wireless data services,” said Frost & Sullivan Mobile Communications Program Leader Carles Ferreiro. “Carriers are faced with the task of marketing these services and encouraging users to migrate to high-speed data networks. If they succeed, a surge in subscribers is expected as users recognize the benefits of faster data speeds, new applications and lower usage prices opening up further opportunities in the wireless arena.”
Subscribers to mobile Internet services will vary significantly, specifically as to their choice of access device, whether a smart phone, a PDA or a laptop, which will largely influence their usage patterns. Consumers and corporate users will utilize different devices, because they will have different needs.
According to Frost & Sullivan Research Analysts Brent Iadarola and Kshitij Moghe, the new packet-data environment requires new pricing strategies in order to regulate traffic. They expect operators to introduce “bucket” pricing for bundled voice and data services with varying bucket sizes for different user segments.
The 2001 edition of the “Mobile Cellular Communications” series from Web-Feet Research found that mobile Internet consumers using phones may have to wait a bit longer than originally expected because the recent downturn in the mobile market has caused significant delays in the 3G implementation, but only minor ones in the transition to 2.5G.
Sales of 2.5G-capable mobile handsets began in 2001 and Web-Feet predicts they will reach 468 million units in 2006, representing 51 percent of the total, and thus preparing for the full transition to 3G. Sales of 3G-capable mobile phones will commence in 2003 and will reach 272 million in 2006, or 29 percent of the total mobile phone sales.
The development of Wireless Personal Area Network will suffer only minor delays, Web-Feet found. The number of mobile phones and electronic equipment with Bluetooth-enabled communications capability is expected to reach 1,420 million units by 2006. Eighty-five million handheld intelligent appliances are projected to have wireless Internet access capability.