We estimate that there are around 6 billion personal wireless wide area connected devices in the form of handsets, MBB-connected PCs/laptops and tablets in use today. By 2020 this will have increased to over 9 billion, including 1.4 billion connected PCs/laptops and well over 200 million wireless wide area connected tablets (i.e. excluding WiFi-only devices). Today about 1/4 of the world's 6 million connected devices are 3G+, a figure that is set to rise to 95% by 2020, as illustrated in the chart below.
Our forecast for traffic growth isn't as aggressive as many. Realistic I call it. We estimate that it will grow from about 4 Exabytes annually this year to about 40 in 2020. So a ten-fold increase on average globally. Obviously there will be massive geographical variation in there. Some markets in Europe are already seeing what looks like the start of a plateauing in total data usage. It's still growing pretty rapidly but it is not exponential. In other emerging MBB markets such as India the growth will be more rapid in percentage terms.
As you can see from the chart below, it's mostly PC/laptop connectivity generating the data traffic however the variation in the mix between handsets and PC traffic across different countries is quite dramatic. In the Netherlands for instance 2/3 is handset data, whereas for more mature mobile broadband markets such as Austria it's more like 15%.
These are just some of the topline figures. I'll be sharing a few other nuggets as the report nears completion.
About the report
Mobile Broadband Global Forecast & Analysis 2010-20 provides invaluable qualitative and quantitative analysis of the evolving opportunity for mobile broadband. The report reviews the major drivers and barriers for growth of MBB and analyses the key market dynamics, including how MNOs should approach customer acquisition, retention and management. It also examines the implications of the growth in mobile data traffic and the strategies that MNOs should pursue to cope with that growth including pricing and bundling. The three major device types (smartphones, datacards/USB sticks and tablets) are examined individually with case studies and forecast analysis.
The forecast excel data sheet includes very granular 10 year market forecasts for 54 countries and 6 regions. The forecast covers numbers of connections, traffic and revenue for each of the device types with splits by technology (2G, 3G and 4G).
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