August 9, 2007 6:06 AM PDT

HSPA to dominate mobile broadband?

Mobile broadband looks set to be dominated by HSPA over the coming years, if hardware makers play their cards right.

A report by analyst firm Juniper Research predicts that 70 percent of mobile-broadband subscribers will use the souped-up version of 3G by 2012. Total mobile-broadband subscribers will number 1.2 billion by then, it said--equivalent to nearly one in three mobile subscribers worldwide.

HSPA (High-Speed Packet Access) delivers mobile-broadband speeds in excess of 500 kilobits per second and up to several megabits per second. There are currently about 5 million HSPA subscribers worldwide, according to UMTS Forum, a 3G advocate.

Howard Wilcox, an analyst at Juniper Research and the author of a report called Mobile Broadband Markets: WiMax, EV-DO, HSPA & Beyond, 2007-2012, said takeoff of the mobile-broadband technology will depend on the success of HSPA-enabled hardware.

"If you take the iPod as an example, before the iPod existed, not many people would have probably imagined that you could have such a device with its capabilities, but right now, that's an extremely popular device--everyone seems to have one," Wilcox said. "It's having that kind of innovation and attractiveness to particular end users which I think is key for mobile broadband."

There are currently 128 HSDPA-enabled devices--which provide data downlink speeds 5 to 10 times faster than those of standard 3GSM (WCDMA) wireless devices--according to the GSM Association. That figure includes 46 handsets, 32 data cards, 30 laptops and one MP3 player.

HSPA has the edge over mobile WiMax, as it is "here and now," according to Wilcox. "It is out there, it's available and it is also a software upgrade from the existing 3G/GSM networks, whereas WiMax will take longer to establish itself because WiMax is essentially a new network build," he said.

Wilcox said mobile WiMax is likely to net "a single-digit percent proportion of the global mobile-broadband subscriber base by 2012," with EV-DO (A and B) being the next most prolific technology after HSPA, driven by markets in the Americas and the Far East.

Juniper Research said demand for mobile broadband will primarily be driven by North America and Western Europe, with China and the Far East also playing a part.

Mobile-broadband subscriber numbers are likely to surge as older hardware in developing countries is replaced by newer, broadband-enabled technology, Wilcox said.

"In a few years' time, (mobile-broadband capability in mobile devices will) become a given and, therefore, people who previously had no mobile capability will have this almost whether they like it or not," Wilcox said.

A recent report by Senza Fili Consulting predicted that the combined total of fixed, mobile and fixed, and mobile-WiMax subscribers will reach 54 million by 2012.

Natasha Lomas of Silicon.com reported from London.

See more CNET content tagged:
Juniper Networks Inc., subscriber, broadband, EVDO, 3G

7 comments

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WiMax not here yet? Smoking crack again, I see!
Mobile WiMax is already in South Korea, and will be in DC and Chicago at the end this year. Sprint (The Nextel name will be gone as soon as they get NASCAR to go along with using Sprint), will roll out WiMax for the rest of the USA in 2008. Fixed WiMax is available in numerous markets right now.
Posted by bkedersha (66 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I had Wimax 2 years ago
I agree, mobile Wimax is new, but Wimax already here.

I tried a fixed Wimax service that mounted an directional antenna on my house and it was fine, until Verizon Fios started rolling out in my city.
Posted by df503 (3 comments )
Link Flag
Best Buy
"Fixed WiMax is available in numerous markets right now." Agreed.

But the article is about mobile broadband, so replying about fixed WiMAX is off-topic. But the WiMAX promoters have always been deft at switching the subject to suit the message they want to promote.

Yet you seem to thing mobile WiMAX is here. Really? Then let's go down to Best Buy together, and you can show me which aisle the WiMAX modems are in. Are they next to the Sprint or VZW EV-DO modems, or over by the AT&T HSDPA modems?

While were at it, point me towards the laptops with the integrated WiMAX modems, since I'm bored of the ones with EV-DO integrated. I know Intel CEO Paul Otellini said in 2004 that I could buy a mobile WiMAX laptop by 2005, so please just tell me where to shop for that.

Look, dude, I'm not saying this stuff will never exist, but you have a strange way of using the future tense and then saying it's the present. "Will be in DC and Chicago at the end this year". You tell me, is that present or future? And do you take all telco promises as fact?

RE: Korea. WiBRO isn't exactly WiMAX. Among the reasons the Koreans standardized on WiBRO was that they didn't want to WAIT for mobile WiMAX. As for how it's working...well, there were the battery issues, the delays in Samsung's ability to produce working handsets, and this: WiBRO launched in June 2006, and by February this year KT's 906 subscribers vastly outpaced SK Telecom's 151. No, those numbers aren't typos.

References:
Korea WiBRO:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.techdirt.com/blog/wireless/articles/20070206/163129.shtml" target="_newWindow">http://www.techdirt.com/blog/wireless/articles/20070206/163129.shtml</a>

Paul Otellini:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.techdirt.com/blog/wireless/articles/20061002/112555.shtml" target="_newWindow">http://www.techdirt.com/blog/wireless/articles/20061002/112555.shtml</a>
Posted by kerton (1 comment )
Link Flag
Hey, just saw this old thread and thought I would score the predictions. It's Feb 2010 now.

bkedersha said that Ms. Lomas was on crack, and that Sprint will roll Wimax out to the "rest of the USA in 2008". Oops! As of Jan 1, 2010 (a full year after you said they would cover the country) they had covered 20 cities. You were not even close, not by a mile.
Posted by moil4gold49 (12 comments )
Link Flag
500Kbps or even 768Kbps is not Broadband
Get over it CewllCarrier officionados. Your bandwidth whether HSDPA or EV-DO Rev A or B are nwo and will remain Narrowband (below 2Mbps) until the new LITE networks come on line or Verizon Wireless wins and deploys its 700Mhz services (to beef up its CDMA based net)in 2010-2011.
Do not get me wrong, a consistant (and the key word here is consistant)768Kbps for a portable service is not bad, comprable to many DSL Lite services, but it does not compete with either the new Mesh Networks (6-10Mbps) or the planned WiMAX Mobile that will allow 2-3 Mbps. To bad the Cell nets bandwidth is asymmetrical which will kill it as P2P and Music/Video exchanges will dominate the user space.

Jacomo
Posted by jacomo (115 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Who defined broadband bandwidth?
Broadband has nothing to do with bandwidth, all it means is that the data is spread out over a wide group of frequencies (ethernet, even up to 10Gbps is not broadband, nor is Fios.) Technically I think you are right in saying that these systems are narrowband, but they always will be, even at speeds greater than 2Mbps.
A lot of DSL is 1.5Mbps or slower (I'm remote enough to be stuck with 768k,) but I've never heard anyone venture to say that any DSL can't be considered broadband.
Posted by skrubol (181 comments )
Link Flag
HSPA will dominate?
If any market research is dependent more on rearview mirrors, then it will only extrapolate the things gone by. An aggregation of extensive interviews with market leaders will generate anomalies. In-depth market research should depend less on how many market leaders are interviewed than on what is hot in the lab benches, when it comes to fast-evolving technology, like mobile broadband. It is a little premature to take the Juniper Research report seriously 'cause time will tell which technology will prevail.
Posted by Quemann (16 comments )
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