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Do you know what 'mobile data' will mean in seven years' time? Here's someone who reckons they do; and it's all Asia, says research company, Telecompetition.

"Europe may have started the interest in mobile multimedia services with the 3G auctions, and the US may have first advertised 'mobile Internet', but it's Asia Pacific that will lead the world in adoption of multimedia enhanced 'Advanced Mobile Data' services - with $19 billion in annual revenue and a 40 per cent share of the world market by 2005," is the bold prediction.

And the bit that will make some shake their heads: "The Asia Pacific region will add over 600 million new mobile data subscribers between now and 2010 - adding $142 million annually by the end of the decade. Over 80 per cent of that revenue will be from advanced mobile data services delivered on 3G or 2.5G networks."

Some observers will express astonishment; others, sheer disbelief.

PCTel's Ogi Resnik recently told NewsWireless.Net that all predictions based on expectations of 3G phone growth should be revised heavily downwards. His company sells enabling software which lets phone companies charge for mobile data over Wi-Fi hotspots.

"Some of the 3G spending has failed to materialise, and some of them see Wi-Fi as a way of providing high speed data at a fraction of the cost of a 3G base station," he said. "We've seen some very well thought out RFCs in this area over the last few months - but a year ago, most mobile companies wouldn't have known what a hotspot was."

Telecompetition's report seems to assume that mobile phone companies are somehow entitled to a revenue stream. "The report demonstrates the necessity of developing mobile data services to sustain operator revenue," the company said. It seems to beg the question 'necessity for whom?' and it doesn't seem obvious that it will be the customer.

Telecompetition predicts that "by 2010, total worldwide average monthly voice revenue per user (ARPU) will drop from $26 to $18". If that turns out to be accurate, then a lot of phone companies will be very happy, because many of them think it will drop faster.

"To compensate for this decline and grow ARPU a modest three per cent annually, mobile data ARPU must increase from around $2 today to over $12 by 2010, an increase of 36 per cent, $10 of which will come from advanced mobile data services."

The research appears to be based on the assumption that in Asia, 3G phone networks will be widespread. The argument, it seems, is that these countries have very poor phone networks on which to build Internet broadband - which is very much part of the Wi-Fi hotspot equation. Wi-Fi data can only flourish where very cheap Internet connections are possible.

"Developing and emerging economies have been highly motivated to build mobile infrastructure as quickly as possible," said Telecompetition President and CEO Eileen Healy. "Inadequate communications infrastructure has become widely recognise as the major inhibitor to success in most world markets, including emerging economies."

Telecompetition's Worldwide Mobility Report: 2003 includes 300-plus pages of mobile voice and mobile data revenue and subscriber forecasts for 165 countries and five world regions, providing a comprehensive view of the total mobile demand, for any geographic area in the world. ®

Copyright © 2003, NewsWireless.net

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