Alternative communication methods and cloud-based services are enabling use of the 3G and 4G/LTE networks, driven by users continuing to use tablets, modems and phones.
The increase in connected devices and the increased availability of mobile device such as tablets and smartphones means the amount of mobile data downloaded is likely to at least double yearly for the next few years.
That’s the findings of the latest research from telecommunications research firm BuddeComm, Global Mobile Broadband – a Trailblazing Market – Insights and Statistics.
The report says Long-Term Evolution (LTE) – or 4G – represents an important growth opportunity for the mobile industry, and operators around the world are investing heavily in rolling out the technology.
“In fact, LTE network deployment may turn out to be one of fastest technology migrations ever seen. In LTE's favour is the fact that it allows operators a smooth migration from both legacy 3GPP and non-3GPP systems.”
With competitively priced services, innovative smartphones, and an increasing range of apps, mobile broadband traffic will continue to escalate, the report claims.
“LTE systems were designed primarily for data communications and do not have the circuit switched capability of previous mobile generations – therefore, on their own, LTE networks do not allow for voice or SMS,” the research says. “In order to offer these services, VoLTE solution need to be added to the LTE network.”
With the improved coverage and penetration of LTE as well as the massive adoption of smartphones, the report says VoLTE has become a priority throughout the world for operators that wish to bring HD voice service to their LTE customers.
Nevertheless, while VoLTE services certainly offer opportunities, Over-The-Top (OTT) mobile VoIP services will attract the largest revenue market shares, at least in the short and medium term.
The report says mobile VoIP has been skyrocketing, with millions of users around the world subscribing to one or more of the many OTT companies offering mobile VoIP apps and services.
“While a few forward-looking mobile operators understand the importance of accepting and even encouraging OTT services, some incumbents are applying pressure on regulators to restrict mobile VoIP,” the report states. “Other operators, especially in the more developed markets, are competing directly with OTT players by launching their own VoLTE services.’
The report reveals the Asia Pacific region overtook North America in 2014 to become the region with the largest number of LTE subscriptions, and the smartphone is the largest and fastest-growing LTE device category, followed by routers and tablets.
The BuddeComm report says the next step in mobile broadband is 5G, and that 5G technology is now well and truly under development. “While there are no firm standards in place, the industry is working hard at making that happen,” BuddeComm says.
“In the meantime, the early movers are testing their own versions of the 5G technology and this is giving us information about what we can expect – what the technology will be able to deliver.”
BuddeComm says commercial 5G is not expected to become available in any significant way until around 2020, with full deployment expected towards the end of that decade.