According to a new research report from analyst firm Berg Insight, the number of notebook PCs with embedded HSPA/LTE mobile broadband connectivity in Europe will grow from 8.4 million in 2007 to 49 million in 2013. According to the firm’s report, this growth will be driven by consumer demand for ubiquitous Internet access.
The research firm however does not see mobile broadband connectivity replacing fixed networks for Internet access, rather mobile broadband will be a complementary access technology, providing a connection outside the user’s home. Berg Insight expects embedded HSPA/LTE chipsets to become a standard feature in notebook PCs designed for the European market over the next three to five years.
The report warns that due to this trend, mobile operators could face a challenge in managing network usage. Mobile data traffic already exceeds mobile voice traffic in terms of volumes in advanced markets. In Sweden for example, some half a million mobile broadband terminals are estimated to have generated twice as much network load as all 10 million handsets in the country combined. Consumers already account for 80% of the data volume in spite of only making up roughly 40% of the mobile broadband subscriber base.
“Every mobile broadband service provider has a dilemma” Tobias Ryberg, senior analyst with Berg Insight, said in a statement. “On the one hand they have a highly attractive proposition—a novel mobile service with high ARPU. On the other hand, the very popularity of the service stretches the mobile network infrastructure to its utmost limit—threatening to degrade the level of service for all subscribers.”
Actual data speeds are also hurt by lack of network capacity.
The main response by operators has been to impose some restrictions on data traffic. The firm’s report concludes that operators need to consider significant network investments to keep up with demand.
“In a few years, Internet users will expect to be able to view full-HD streaming IPTV via their Internet connection. Then it will not do to offer 14.4 Mbps which is actually 1 Mbps or unlimited data traffic which is in reality limited to a few gigabyte per month,” Ryberg continued.