Massive 3G, HSDPA growth expected

A new report released by BMI-T predicts a tremendous growth in devices with 3G and HSDPA capabilities.

BMI-TechKnowledge’s latest Mobility and 3G User Adoption report forecasts that the 3G and HSDPA device-installed market in South Africa will show a significant growth in the next couple of years, increasing from a low base in 2005 to a base of almost 11.5 million by 2010.

Carolyn Falconer, Senior Telecoms Analyst at BMI-T says that the concept of having access to the world of information right there in your pocket, irrespective of where you are and what time it is has been one of the strongest driving forces in the telecoms industry.

"As customers continue to seek new products and services that keep them informed, connected and entertained, the market grows toward mobility and 3G represents a key enabler, bearing many of the applications and services that can facilitate the take-up of new mobility applications by both the business and consumer markets,” Carolyn said.

“In today’s busy world, productivity, flexibility and entertainment needs are key forces driving interest in and sales of mobile devices, applications, and services".

The South Africa mobile data access market is expected to grow dramatically. BMI-T forecasts that by 2010 there will be approximately 140% more notebook PC’s in South Africa than there are today, most of which will be connecting to one or more networks.

The impact of WiMAX in terms of actual network rollout and user adoption remains a wildcard at this early stage of market development. What appears likely at this stage is that notebook PCs will increasingly be pre-installed with tri-modal connectivity, namely WiFi, HSDPA and later WiMAX.

However, in the early years users will generally be given the choice rather than building these into all notebook PCs, as is currently the case with WiFi connectivity.

Recognising that advanced handsets are a key driver for 3G and mobility applications, handset vendors are seeking to design, build, and ship new devices with sharper displays, expanded functionalities and storage capacities, new form factors, and greater computing power.

The report also suggests that the number of GSM-only devices is forecast to decline considerably by 2010.

The installed base for EDGE, WCDMA and HSDPA devices will have increased significantly by 2010, reaching a substantial proportion of all handsets in active use by then. Many will also be dual-mode, capable of connecting to WiFi and sometimes other network types.

The mobile workforce, using an enabled data device, is growing rapidly as an increasing number of organisations see the benefits of combining mobile solutions with employees spending more time away from the office.

The BMI-T business end user study indicated that convenience was by far the most important reason for enterprises adopting mobile solutions, followed by improving efficiency and saving time.

Mobile office workers want access to their email and they want to be able to update their contacts or calendar remotely. Not surprisingly, fast access to the internet and ubiquitous email are viewed as being the most compelling early 3G applications and services for the business market.

In South Africa, the BMI-T business end user study indicated that more than 60% of respondents in larger companies said that their company uses cell phones to send or receive email, and more than 40% indicated that their company updates calendar/contacts on phones – for at least some employees, thus affirming the importance of these applications for business mobility.

Mobile operators have identified consumer applications as a key growth area, and these will be the main revenue growth drivers. Although voice will provide the largest revenues for network operators, non-voice revenue will grow through applications such as mobile TV, videos, games and full-track music downloads.

Consumers want applications that promise ease of use and convenience. Other consumer applications that have less of an impact at the moment but will drive uptake in the future, particularly from a mobility point of view, are location-based services, such as navigational services and tracking options, and mobile payments.

"Although still in the early phase of deployment, the adoption of 3G services, including mobile PC internet access, is expected to increase significantly as prices of data bundles and devices come down, coverage and speed increases and as more operators market it to the business and consumer markets," concludes Falconer.

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Massive 3G, HSDPA growth expected