Service likely to become crucial to firm in coming years as mobile computing boosts market

IDC: Mobile broadband key for operators

Mobile broadband is set to be a major revenue generator over the next couple of years for mobile operators thanks to a combination of increasing laptop and netbook sales and improved coverage of HSPA networks, according to the latest report from IDC.

According to the market research firm, four factors have been key to the rapid adoption of mobile broadband by European consumers. It found that the upgrading of 3G networks to HSPA, the availability of small USB devices, the falling price of subscriptions and the rise of laptop and netbook sales had been key to increased penetration.

It added that over the next couple of years, network operators were likely to become more reliant on the revenues from mobile broadband services – something that was closer related to its core services than other key revenue streams such as gaming and mobile TV.

"Mobile broadband presents a big land-grab opportunity, both now and for several years to come," commented IDC’s European director of consumer mobile research, John Delaney. "Although the service is simple in concept, its role in the consumer services market is complex.

"Mobility is only one among a variety of reasons why consumers like mobile broadband," he added. "Success in the market will depend critically on a clear understanding of how mobile broadband should be positioned in the spectrum of mobile and Internet services."

"It also substitutes for fixed-line broadband in some circumstances, cannibalising existing revenues," added Delaney. "As such, it is important for operators with both fixed and mobile networks to understand what factors are driving demand for mobile broadband, what is likely to happen to those factors over the next few years, and what strategies they should adopt to take maximum advantage of the opportunity."

However, the research house also warned that the impact of the recession on mobile computer sales may also have adverse affects on the adoption of mobile broadband.

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