Big, Big Numbers
Ericsson's latest research estimates that the number of mobile broadband subscriptions will double this year to over a billion users, eclipsing the global number of wired broadband users. The rise is being caused by the massive number of smartphones and tablets plus the use of mobile broadband dongles available for laptop users.
While definitions of broadband vary (and mobile), it is unlikely that mobile will catch a wired 50Mb connection, with upgrades to 200Mb on the way, any decade soon. Mobile users can happily browse the web with 3G connections while the upcoming 4G revolution will see full mobile video and content-rich browsing become the norm.
A 4G Future
Ericsson itself has installed some 16 4G networks around the world, almost half of which are now live, with contracts for another 11. As if the offer of greater speed wasn't enough for customers, the number of connections is rising due to more affordable smartphones.
This is, in part, thanks to the arrival of a massive range of Android and budget phones at all price points, making the smartphone no longer the preserve of executives, power users and geeks. With the status symbol iPhone now available on multiple networks in the US, price cuts to the last generation iPhone 3GS model, another rocket in numbers must be on the cards.
As information workers continue their exodus from the corporate office to the home or mobile office, which might just be a nice coffee shop, content creators must ensure that their material is available in mobile web-friendly formats and compatible with mobile browsers.
And, while the future is never set in stone (remember all those lovely ideas for free municipal Wi-Fi setups), it looks increasingly like a mobile broadband future is the way forward. As we see users increasingly ditching their home landline for the mobile, we can expect a slow but sure tide of users ditching wired broadband connections for mobile equivalents as and when they become fast and stable enough.